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Dalziel deceiving public over refugee detentions

3 June 2002

Dalziel deceiving public over refugee detentions - Locke

Green Immigration spokesperson Keith Locke has called on Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel to release those asylum seekers currently detained in New Zealand, following a High Court decision on Friday.

"The judge ruled against the Government's policy of routinely detaining asylum seekers arriving at our border," said Mr Locke.

He said Lianne Dalziel should order the immediate release of the 20 or so asylum seekers now detained in either Auckland Central Remand Prison or the Mangere detention centre.

"In the name of the law, and in the name of compassion I ask her to take this step. Those detained include asylum seekers fleeing repression in places like Iran, and a 14-year-old Sri Lankan boy detained in violation of the international convention on the rights of the child."

Mr Locke said the Immigration Minister was resorting to deception to avoid doing this.

"She is claiming that provisions for 'conditional release' in the Transnational Organised Crime Bill, now before Parliament, will satisfy the High Court decision and the plantiffs' concerns.

"She must know that both plaintiffs, the Human Rights Foundation and the Refugee Council of New Zealand, made submissions to the select committee asking that the conditional release clauses in the bill be removed.

"Of course, it would be an improvement to have some of the asylum seekers 'conditionally released' rather than imprisoned for many weeks, as they are now," he said.

"But the conditional release clauses are only there to 'sugar coat' the policy of routine detention - which the Judge has said is wrong.

"Ms Dalziel must wake up to the fact that her routine detention policy is in violation of Refugee Convention and a blot on New Zealand's humanitarian reputation.

"We should not be competing with Australia to see who has the toughest detention policy. We should only be detaining asylum seekers in exceptional circumstances, when there is actual evidence they have been involved in serious crime," said Mr Locke.


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