Court tells Fijians to leave by Friday

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THE National Court in Waigani yesterday ordered the 14 Fijians, alleged to have been illegally working in Papua New Guinea, to leave the country by Friday.
Justice Ambeng Kandakasi made the ruling after noting that the Fijians’ counsel, O’Brien Lawyers, could not provide further evidence that they were employed by Simberi Mine in New Ireland province.
The Fijians and Simberi Mine, their employer, took the Government to court claiming that the former were unlawfully detained and their constitutional rights had been breached.
Justice Kandakasi ruled that both parties had no legal foundation to proceed with the case.
In addition, the court also heard that they had fled while being detained by the Immigration Department.
The court also accepted a submission by the counsel for the Immigration Department, who maintained that the Fijians had been detained as a result of a breach of their visa, and no additional proper permits to remain in the country.
The court was reminded that their detention also resulted from their refusal to voluntarily leave the country when advised last month.
The final decision came even after O’Brien Lawyers representing the Fijians tried to explain that yesterday’s hearing would not have been if the Fijians had left last Friday, maintaining that their detention by Immigration was unlawful.
Before the ruling, O’Brien Lawyers requested that their passports not be marked as deported as it may not allow them to travel to other countries.
But the court maintained that the 14 Fijians did not have work visas and could not stay in the country.
Justice Kandakasi added that the cost of the proceedings and travel arrangements back to Fiji would be met by Allied Gold, the company operating the Simberi mine and employer of the 14 Fijians.
The Fijians were first reported to be in PNG (New Ireland province) without proper work visas on Jan 7, apparently after being brought in by Allied Gold.