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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

PNG Lawyer Challenges Tjandra’s Passport Revocation
Government given 3 days to appoint investigative committee

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 28, 2013) – The Djoko Tjandra case has taken a new twist with a Papua New Guinean lawyer challenging his passport revocation in court.

Loani Henao of Henoa Lawyers will be filing documents in court this morning to challenge the PNG government’s revocation of Mr. Tjandra’s PNG passport, which he obtained under the name "Joe Chan."

Mr. Tjandra-Chan has also written through his lawyer to Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to appoint a review committee of three ministers as required under the law to review Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato's decision to revoke his passport.

They have given the Prime Minister and his government seven days as of yesterday to appoint the committee to review the ministerial decision.

"Because of the impact the decision will have on Mr. Chan's movement, the sensitivity and the level of public attention this matter has attracted, the Prime Minister is requested to appoint a review committee to hear Mr. Chan's application for review within seven days," Mr. Henao said. This follows Minister Pato’s cancellation of the known fugitive’s PNG passport on January 23 giving three grounds for the cancellation of his PNG passport:

  • That Mr. Chan is the subject of a warrant of arrest or outstanding warrant of arrest under the Arrest Act or some other law.
  • That Mr. Chan was engaged in activities that have caused or is likely to cause serious damage to the security of PNG.
  • That Mr. Chan has or is reasonably suspected of having obtained a PNG passport by means of false or misleading statements in connection with his criminal proceedings in Indonesia and matters pertaining to Interpol.

But lawyer Mr. Henao denied that Mr. Chan is subjected to an arrest warrant or outstanding warrant.

"In relation to the other two grounds, the Honorable minister did not substantiate the allegations with facts. Mr. Chan is denied the right to be informed of the basis of the allegations when the cancellation became effective. The cancellation is unreasonable, harsh and oppressive in the circumstances," Mr. Henao said.

He said Mr. Chan's citizenship as a Papua New Guinean was not affected by the cancellation and that he was indeed a citizen, entitled to enjoy the same rights, privileges, obligations and duties as all other citizens irrespective of race, place of origin, color, creed or religion as guaranteed by Section 55 of the Constitution. He is also entitled to the protection of the law.

Late last night the Indonesian Attorney-General’s Office advised that the process had already begun and for Mr. Tjandra to be extradited to Indonesia to face the court and that this process will be adhered to by the two countries.

The Indonesian government last night said that the passport should never have been issued in the first place and they are willing to help the PNG government go through this court case.

PM O’Neill’s office last night said they were aware of Mr. Tjandra’s intention to take the government to court but they did not have the court papers at hand. They advised that the process has begun and they will engage their lawyers to defend the government’s decision.

Earlier, the Indonesian government was happy to be informed by the PNG government of the revocation of the wanted fugitive’s passport. The Indonesian Attorney General’s office in an email advised on Friday that the Indonesian Government had received an official note from PNG advising of the revocation of Djoko Tjandra’s passport and about the process to annul his citizenship.

They thanked PM O’Neill, Foreign Affairs Minister Pato and Attorney General Kerenga Kua for the decisions and process taken so far.

Mr. Tjandra-Chan is reportedly in Taiwan with a small PNG delegation on a business trip.

He is now a persona non-grata because of the cancellation of his PNG passport. He cannot travel to PNG after the passport has been cancelled and all ports have been advised of the matter.

PNG Post-Courier:
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