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O'Connor On Repatriation of Sri Lankan pair

Repatriation of Sri Lankan pair

Associate Immigration Minister Damien O’Connor today authorised the New Zealand Immigration Service (NZIS) to repatriate a teenager and her grandmother to Sri Lanka.

The pair has exhausted all available judicial reviews to be allowed to stay in New Zealand. Damien O’Connor’s decision not to intervene, meant the removal process would continue.

The pair left New Zealand, with an escort party, shortly before 10pm this evening (Thursday February 12). Both women were declared fit to travel prior to departure.

“This has been an extremely difficult and distressing case for all those involved. While I personally found the issues very difficult to grapple with, I stand by my earlier decision not to intervene.”

Damien O’Connor utterly refuted suggestions from the teenager’s lawyer that he had a predetermined position on the case.

“This has been a robust and thorough process.”

“Following a thorough and comprehensive review of all of the facts of this case and taking into consideration recent medical and psychiatric assessments, I am satisfied that there was no compelling reason the pair could not travel.

“The NZIS has made secure arrangements for the pair to be supported by female medical and police escorts on their return journey.

“The NZIS has also worked to ensure a comprehensive care and protection plan for the teenager, was in place on her arrival in Sri Lanka. The post-arrival arrangements for the pair will be assisted by the international agency, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which has extensive experience in repatriating people and assisting their reintegration to their home country.”

Mr O’Conner said a condition of his approving the NZIS removal order was that the young woman would receive ongoing protection, supervision and medical care once repatriated to her homeland.

The IOM and an internationally recognised charity organisation will provide the necessary support during the young woman’s resettlement. Representatives of the IOM and the charity organisation will meet the pair in Colombo.

“The charity organisation will provide a safe haven and secure accommodation. The young woman will be included in the IOM’s reintegration programme in Sri Lanka. This programme addresses the educational, vocational training, medical, and re integration needs of returnees.”

“I am satisfied that appropriate arrangements are in place for the post arrival care for the teenager and her grandmother, as recommended in the psychiatric review completed last week.

“The lawyers representing the pair were informed of my decision not to intervene earlier today,” Mr O’Connor said.

The teenager was medically examined prior to travel.

Mr O’Connor said he had thoroughly considered and reviewed a second detailed independent medical and psychiatric assessment on the young woman which had been requested by the lawyer acting for her and her grandmother.

Mr O’Connor said earlier claims by the young woman and her grandmother to stay in New Zealand as refugees to the Refugee Services Branch (RSB) and the Refugee Services Appeal Authority (RSAA) had been declined.

A subsequent appeal to the High Court to overturn the RSB and RSAA decisions had also been declined, Mr O’Connor said.

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