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Refugee Appeals Authority must sharpen up its act

Wayne Mapp
National Foreign Affairs Spokesman

17 September 2003

Refugee Appeals Authority must sharpen up its act

National's Foreign Affairs spokesman says the Refugee Status Appeals Authority has to work faster and smarter if it's got any chance of clearing the three-year backlog of appeals on its books.

"It's hardly surprising this backlog's built up as the Authority continues to wade through long-winded hearings and piles of reports," says National's Wayne Mapp.

"Ahmed Zaoui, the Algerian seeking refugee status, is a case in point. Eleven days of hearings followed by a 223-page report, much of which was repetitive and unnecessary.

"If the Authority wants to cut its mounting backlog, it has to change the way it operates. It needs look to other courts, like the Court of Appeal, which rarely holds 11-day hearings or produces 200-page reports.

"The Immigration Minister's so-called 'solution' - more appointees to the Authority - is a cop-out. If it sharpened up its act, it wouldn't need more members.

"It is a mark of judicial quality that evidence and argument can be efficiently distilled. The Authority obviously has yet to learn this," says Dr Mapp.

"The way it currently operates is only going to encourage more people to seek refugee status in New Zealand. This, in turn, will hit taxpayers in the pocket since most of the appeal cases attract legal aid," says Dr Mapp.


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