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Copeland seeks Christian deportations moratorium

Copeland seeks moratorium on deportation of Christians

Independent MP Gordon Copeland today utilised a Parliamentary Question to enter a plea with the Minister of Immigration on behalf of Iranian asylum seekers, who convert to Christianity.

“Following the introduction of legislation in Iran mandating the death penalty for apostates from Islam, there can now be no doubt at all that the deportation of such converts is a death sentence,” said Mr Copeland.

“In the light of that reality, the Dutch, British, Canadian, and Australian Governments have stopped deportation to Iran and New Zealand should, in my view, do the same.”

“This country’s foundations are based upon liberty of conscience and freedom of religion, including the freedom to change one’s religion. We abolished the death penalty about 40 years ago and its application anywhere in the world is abhorrent to New Zealanders.”

“In these circumstances it is simply unconscionable to continue deportation.”

Mr Copeland has said that any claim to Christian conversion needs to be genuine and able to be authenticated by clergy or other pastoral workers in testimony before the Refugee Status Appeals Authority. However, should testimony provided in that manner affirm that the conversion is genuine, then it should be accepted and asylum granted to the claimant.

“At the end of the day, there is simply no option in the matter and I would rather see the benefit of the doubt extended to the asylum seeker than take the risk of discovering later that we have sent a person back to their death in Iran.”


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