Illegal entry a concern: Fiji Immigration

  03 Feb 2017

SUVA, 02 FEBRUARY 2017 (FIJI TIMES) —- Fiji’s Immigration Department is concerned about the security risk posed by the illegal entry of Loghman Sawari, the Iranian national who is seeking asylum in Fiji.

The 21-year-old is alleged to have arrived from Papua New Guinea last week under an assumed identity. [restrict]

Immigration Director Nemani Vuniwaqa said he was waiting for the Iranian to present himself.

“It is a security issue and we are concerned that he was able to purchase an air ticket and travel to Fiji,” he said.

“I am finalising a report to the Prime Minister’s Office regarding the issue.

“We will have to verify some of the concerns that we have and information in regards to this Iranian national.”

Meanwhile, former prime minister and Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry said Sawari should have been arrested as soon as it was determined that he had entered the country illegally.

“And security checks by the Immigration Department officials at all our borders should have been reviewed and heightened to ensure this type of slip up does not happen again,” he said.

“This Iranian, who is trying to claim refugee status, should have been arrested and detained because he has broken the law and it is a serious security issue for us.

“That is the normal procedure because we have to determine for ourselves the real identity of this Loghman Sawari and establish who he really is and how he managed to escape from Papua New Guinea, obtain an air ticket and travel to Fiji.

“There is the obvious human trafficking aspect of this issue and also the security issue for us all.

“We do not definitively know who this Iranian national is, what his agenda really is and what he is capable of.”

The Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission, however, has strongly condemned statements made by the FLP and other political parties who had called for the immediate arrest of the Iranian Refugee.

“I wish to remind the Fiji Labour Party and all other political actors that apart from the national legislations pertaining to immigration, Fiji acceded to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees in 1972 and therefore, Fiji has legal and moral obligations in relation to international human rights norms and conventions,” said director Ashwin Raj.

In a statement issued Wednesday, he cited Article 31 (1) of the 1951 Convention, which said that Contracting States would not impose penalties, on account of the illegal entry or presence of refugees who came from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened.

The convention said this was provided the refugees presented themselves without delay to the authorities and showed good cause for their illegal entry or presence.

Raj said the convention also clearly stated that Contracting States would not apply restriction of movement other than that which was necessary until the refugee’s status in the country was regularised or if they obtained admission into another country.

“I am therefore asking all political parties to refrain from politicising this highly-sensitive issue, recognise the humanity of this individual and the enormous trauma he is going through and let the relevant authorities address this issue keeping in mind not only the legislative framework governing Fiji in relation to immigration but also our human rights obligations,” he said…..PACNEWS [/restrict]