1 Aug 2006

Australian group welcomes granting of visa to Papuan refugee

3:08 pm on 1 August 2006

The Australian lobby group, Free West Papua Campaign, has welcomed the decision by Australia's Refugee Tribunal in overturning a government decision to deny a Papuan asylum seeker refugee status.

David Wainggai fled Indonesia, claiming persecution by the authorities.

Yesterday, the tribunal ruled that Mr Wainggai, who has been detained on Christmas island since January, was owed protection by Australia under the terms of the refugee convention.

The judgment comes more than two months after the Immigration Department denied Mr Wainggai refuge status on the grounds that he had the right to live in Japan.

Mr Wainggai was among 43 Papuan asylum seekers who landed in Queensland in January - the other 42 were granted temporary protection visas in March.

The Free West Papua Campaign's Nick Chesterfield says he's glad Australia is following its legal obligations to protect refugees' rights.

"To look at the facts and not look at political considerations between countries to actually provide protection and we're just glad the refugee tribunal has looked at the facts that David Wainggai was subject to fierce persecution by the Indonesian military."

Nick Chesterfield