FOREIGN Affairs Minister Sam Abal has warned people not to abuse the Traditional Border Crossers (TBC) passes to travel across the border from Sandaun province to the Papua province of Indonesia.
“There is grave concern over the gross abuse of the TBC passes over the past years by PNG nationals who are not entitled to use them for travel to Jayapura, Papua Province,” he said.
The warning follows the recent arrest of 17 Papua New Guineans, who crossed the border using false papers.
He noted that although the 17 might have been released, he hoped their detention would serve as a warning to others.
“This warning is especially for the nontraditional inhabitants from the border as well as other provinces who are not recognised nor entitled to use such passes,” he said in a statement issued last week.
“Anyone who is not recognised as traditional inhabitants, should refrain from abusing the TBC,” the minister for foreign affairs, trade and immigration, said.
Under article four of the Basic Agreement on Border Arrangements between PNG and Indonesia, only traditional inhabitants on either side of the border can engage in traditional related activities, for a specific period.
Mr Abal warned that people who did not abide by this arrangement would arrested and prosecuted by “Indonesian authorities”.
The MoU on TBC arrangements was concluded in 1993, but it is currently being reviewed because of the prevalent abuse.
The National Executive Council endorsed the review and Mr Abal was confident the new arrangement, once agreed by Indonesia and PNG, would be workable and prevent ongoing abuses.