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Govt must re-evaluate case of Sri Lankan woman

27 March 2006

Government must re-evaluate case of Sri Lankan woman

The Government should re-evaluate the case of the young Sri Lankan woman deported from New Zealand in February 2004, according to Green Party Immigration Spokesperson Keith Locke.

The young woman has now been granted refugee status in Hong Kong by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

"It is now beyond dispute that the Government got the facts wrong, and was too hard-hearted," Mr Locke says.

"I have written to Immigration Minister David Cunliffe requesting that the case be investigated. We need to know how the Immigration Service and then Associate Immigration Minister Damien O'Connor got it so wrong.

"The young woman's lawyers are also owed an apology after being attacked so aggressively by the Government for taking the case to the media.

"Clearly, this case demonstrates that it is better to err on the side of compassion when dealing with a vulnerable person, especially one well-settled in New Zealand, as this young woman was.

"There was no way New Zealand could guarantee her safety back in Sri Lanka, when her abusing uncle was still there, and other family members were antagonistic to her.

"In this case, New Zealand failed to meet its obligations to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to put the best interests of the child first.

"We need to reassess this case so we don't have more heart-rending cases of young people being needlessly deported," Mr Locke says.


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