UN 'gravely concerned' by refugee's deportation

5:14 pm on 7 February 2017

The United Nations' refugee agency is urging Papua New Guinea's government to ensure a refugee from Iran, who sought asylum in Fiji, is treated fairly.

Loghman Sawari, 21, fled to Fiji from PNG on a fake passport.

    Loghman Sawari in Fiji.

Loghman Sawari in Fiji. Photo: Behrouz Boochani

Along with his lawyer, he was on his way to meet with Fiji Immigration in Suva on Friday to seek asylum, when he was stopped by police and put on a plane back to PNG.

The UN Refugee Agency said it had sought assurances from the Fiji government last week that Mr Sawari would have access to Fiji's national asylum procedures.

The agency said it was now seeking more information from both the PNG and Fiji governments, and it was profoundly concerned for Mr Sawari's welfare.

It said it was urging the PNG government to ensure Mr Sawari was treated in accordance with international human rights law and standards.

The agency said all asylum-seekers were entitled to have their claims for refugee status considered fairly and in accordance with the 1951 Refugee Convention, to which Fiji was a signatory.

Human rights groups in Fiji also condemned what they called the illegal and arbitrary deportation of Loghman Sawari.

The NGO Coalition on Human Rights said Fiji should have allowed Mr Sawari the opportunity to present his claim to immigration authorities.

It said Fiji authorities' abrupt actions had further endangered the psychological wellbeing of an individual who was already dealing with trauma.

The coalition said Fiji's inhumane treatment of a vulnerable refugee did not bode well for its bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.

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