NZ Catholic Church worker deported from Papua New Guinea


A New Zealand Catholic church worker, providing legal advice to landowners, has deported from Papua New Guinea.

Despite a court order staying his deportation, Douglas Tennent was forced to leave PNG on Monday after being told on Friday by immigration officials he was abusing the conditions of his religious worker visa.

Now back in New Zealand Tennent said he wants just two things.

“One of them is to return to PNG to continue my work with the archdiocese in helping local people on infrastructure and land issues,” he said.

“And the other thing I want is for immigration to spell out to me how I breach my visa and if any groups have got concerns about my actions, set them out so I can respond. I have had no opportunity to respond.”

In a statement issued on Tuesday the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands , said Tennent was deported for fighting for justice for the voiceless in Papua New Guinea.

The  archbishop of Rabaul, Francesco Panfilo, says  Tennent was working for him on disposing of church and other lands, a housing project for low-income earners and helping those negatively affected by a huge palm oil project, run by multi national Rimbunan Hijau.

Rimbunan Hijau, which has wide interests in PNG, has a huge oil palm plantation at West Pomio in East New Britain.

Panfilo said the claim by immigration that Tennent had illegally involved himself in sensitive land issues was false.

Tennet is a well-known and respected author on immigration and refugee law issues.

He worked from 1984-1992 as an advocate in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea court and prison system under a joint project of the Anglican and Catholic Churches.

From 1998 until 2002  taught in the Faculty of Law, University of Papua New Guinea. He was also the Associate Dean.

He then spent some time on the faculty of law at Waikato University.

From 2009 till 2011 he was a legal advisor in the Solomon Islands.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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