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Illegal border crossers in Papua New Guinea will be severely punished if they defy the state-of-emergency Covid-19 lockdown orders.
Prime Minister James Marape issued this stern warning to illegal border crossers during the SOE operation amidst reports of traditional border crossers at the PNG/Indonesian border and at Western Province.
Marape told reporters he will be talking to his Indonesian counterpart President Joko Widodo, including Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, to ensure policing on their side of the border is beefed up.
He said they will be instructed to arrest and lock up any Papua New Guineans caught crossing illegally.
This warning comes as the government steps up its border surveillance which has placed PNG in an exposed and high risk position. “I’ll be asking the Indonesian President and Australian Prime Minister to ensure that their borders are policed and if there are illegal crossings at this time of the coronavirus, I will give them approval to lock Papua New Guineans on the other side just as I will be locking up Australians or Indonesians if they are found crossing illegally onto our side.
“Those Papua New Guineans found to be crossing illegally or who attempt to cross illegally will be imprisoned,” Marape said.
“It’s not as if we will be strict on each and every one of you, our strategy is to stop Covid-19 from coming in.
“We have now improved on how we will address domestic flights and international flights, and we have improved on how we address ships coming in for our cargo ships.
“I want the country to hear this properly.
“For those who are continuously travelling and especially the vanilla traders, up north in Vanimo, and down south for whatever reason, you want to go through the Indonesian border, sometimes tomorrow I will be speaking with President Joko Widodo, and Australia’s Scott Morrison to step up our international borders.
“So Papua New Guineans, as your Prime Minister, I will be speaking without fear or favour.
“Anyone of you who want to cross over to the other side, our government has made it illegal already.
“And if police on the other side pick you up and lock you up, don’t cry to our government asking to be bailed out,” Marape said.
“So a warning again to Papua New Guineans, if you cross borders over to another country, you will put yourself at risk with the coronavirus,” he said.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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