Visa for Papuan asylum seeker

David Wainggai is expected to be given the visa by the end of this week after an independent tribunal overturned a decision by the Immigration Department.


Mr Wainggai is the 29-year-old son of a Papuan independence leader who died in an Indonesian jail.

The Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) has set aside the department’s decision to refuse Mr Wainggai a protection visa, referring the matter back to the department.

The decision virtually guarantees Mr Wainggai will be recognised as a refugee, with the department rarely turning down remittances from the tribunal.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone has confirmed the RRT handed down the decision last night after an appeal by Mr Wainggai.

“A senior member of the Refugee Review Tribunal has yesterday set aside my department’s decision to refuse Mr Wainggai a protection visa and has remitted this matter for reconsideration with the direction that he is a person to whom Australia has protection obligations under the (UN) refugees’ convention,” she said.

“The RRT is a final, independent merits review body and I am unable to direct its members in their decision making.”

The reasons for the RRT decision are unclear, but it’s possible that the tribunal found Mr Wainggai would face persecution if he was returned to the Indonesian-controlled province of Papua.

Mr Wainggai arrived on a boat on Cape York in January. He has since been held at the immigration detention centre on remote Australian territory of Christmas Island.

An Immigration Department spokesman said a decision on Mr Wainggai’s protection visa was likely within days.

Mr Wainggai would be released into the community on Christmas Island, probably on a bridging visa.

The government denied Mr Wainggai’s application for a protection visa in late May saying that Mr Wainggai, whose mother is Japanese, had not exhausted all avenues to reside elsewhere.

The decision to grant the Papuans visas triggered outrage in Indonesia and sent relations between Canberra and Jakarta to their lowest point since East Timor’s separation in 1999.