Thursday, July 30, 2009

"Stateless" man finds a home

Mr Scott James Edman, who has been languishing in prison for more than six years because his nationality is unknown, has finally found a place to call home.

His nightmare ended after the government of Papua New Guinea gave the green light to have him sent there. “I am happy to get my birth right. Even though I won’t be able to join my family which moved to Australia, I will have somewhere to call home,” said Mr Edman when he appeared in court on Monday. The State law office on Monday informed Mr Justice Mohammed Warsame who had earlier ordered the release and deportation of the man that the government had booked a flight for him to travel to his mother country on August 1.

Mr Edman was first arrested on April 2, 1996, and charged with being in the country illegally and holding a forged Australian passport. He was found guilty and sentenced to six months imprisonment. But, after the term he could not be repatriated because he refused to disclose his identity and country of origin. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees declined to give him refugee status in January 1998. The Australian High Commission too declined to accept him, saying he was not an Australian. Two years later, the government issued Mr Edman with a certificate of identification and directed him to leave the country but he refused. He was arrested and charged on August 10, 2000, with being in the country unlawfully. He was again found guilty.

In November 2003, he was released from custody and issued with a prohibited immigrant’s notice after which he travelled to Dubai. He was denied entry there because he did not have travel documents and he returned to Kenya. At the time, he said his country of origin was the United States, but he was born in Papua New Guinea and that his parents were Australians.

On Monday, Mr Justice Warsame directed the matter be mentioned on September 16 to ascertain whether Mr Edman has reached his destination safely.

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