Universal Periodic Review: Papua New Guinea by UNHCR

Submission by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Compilation Report

  • Universal Periodic Review:


I. Background and Current Conditions

1Papua New Guinea (PNG) acceded to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol on 17 July 1986 (henceforth referred to jointly as the 1951 Convention).

When acceding to the 1951 Convention, the PNG Government made reservations against seven of the Articles under the 1951 Convention: Article 17(1) [wage-earning employment], Article 21 [housing], Article 22(1) [public education], Article 26 [freedom of movement], Article 31 [refugees unlawfully in the country of refuge], Article 32 [expulsion] and Article 34

. Discussions are underway to remove these reservations.
2International obligations must be incorporated into national laws in order to be fully effective.

At this stage, The Migration Act 1978 (the Migration Act) and its 1989 amendments authorize the Minster of Foreign Affairs “to determine a non-citizen to be a refugee” under section 15A.

The current legislation does not provide any further details as to how this determination is to be made, nor does it outline the rights and obligations of asylum-seekers or refugees in PNG once they are recognized as refugees (e.g. type of documentation to be provided to them, residency status, and access to labour market). In particular, it does not provide a regularization clause for those who illegally arrived in the country. Currently, national legislation does not provide an adequate framework to deal with asylum-seekers and refugees in PNG.

3In order to provide a durable solution for Irian Jaya refugees at the East Awin refugee camp, then Government adopted the “Limited Integration” policy in 1996. The policy provided two options for refugees: permissive residency or voluntary repatriation. Those who did not wish to return to their country of origin were encouraged to integrate and assimilate into PNG society through the granting of Permissive Residency, whilst those who did not wish to continue to reside in PNG were encouraged to repatriate voluntarily.

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