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Creech: Asylum Seekers Well Cared For

MEDIA RELEASE

Rt Hon Wyatt Creech
Acting Minister of Immigration
26 November 1999

ASYLUM SEEKERS WELL CARED FOR

Acting Immigration Minister Wyatt Creech has re-iterated that a group of asylum
seekers are receiving good care and attention while they are detained in Mt Eden
Prison.

"While people calling for sympathy and release of the hunger strikers in Mt Eden
is understandable, understanding the full context of this situation puts a
different light on the matter.

"These are illegal migrants. They arrived in New Zealand without any visas
passports. The New Zealand law allows for the detention of illegal migrants
while their claims for refugee status are determined.

"New Zealand authorities have been unable to establish their identities.

"This is an extremely difficult situation - no one likes it. But this sad
situation has arisen because of delays that have not been caused by the Crown.
We want to see this situation resolved. Lawyers for the men have repeatedly
sought adjournments thus delaying the case before the independent Refugee Status
Appeals Authority.

"The prison doctor examined those who are fasting yesterday and the Immigration
Service has been advised there was no change in their condition.

"The lawyers for the claimants have also today refused to allow the Immigration
Service to have the claimants examined by an independent medical practitioner."

Mr Creech said the men were from Pakistan, Iran and India.

"The law under which these men are being held is designed to protect New
Zealand. Without a firm stand we could easily find ourselves being subject to a
large influx of non bona-fide people claiming refugee status from all sorts of
countries similar to the situation currently occurring in Australia.

"Several District Court judges have agreed to hold the claimants in custody.
Those who are fasting are under constant nursing supervision. They have a
medical exam twice a week. They are being kept in a separate, modernised wing
of Mt Eden."

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