PNG has a robust refugee status determination process incorporated in legislation. It has been developed with the assistance and inputs of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Previously the UNHCR used to conduct refugee status determination in PNG. It has now ceased to do this in recognition of the robustness of PNG’s own process and the competence of ICA’s officers. The UNHCR has also provided training to ICA on refugee status determination.
As per Government’s policy, refugees are provided multiple layers of natural justice. They may be provided with interpreters and assistance to prepare their applications by refugee law experts. Their claims are initially assessed by ICA officers. If they are initially assessed not to be a refugee, they may have these claims reviewed by an independent panel of eminent PNG and international lawyers. Under PNG law, the Minister for Immigration and Border Security makes the final determination of a refugee’s status.
If they are determined to be a refugee, they are eligible to apply for a refugee visa and Certificate of Identity. A refugee visa is permanent and provides freedom of movement and work rights. Those who receive a negative assessment will be entitled to apply for independent review. Those who are determined as non-refugees will be required to leave Papua New Guinea.