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Delamere: Asylum seekers refusing to cooperate

Hon Tuariki Delamere Minister of Immigration

Media statement For immediate release Monday, November 01, 1999

Delamere: Asylum seekers refusing to cooperate

Immigration Minister, Hon Tuariki Delamere, said today that the asylum seekers in Mt Eden jail had again failed to cooperate with Immigration Service officers over the weekend.

Members of the Service’s Refugee Status Branch had gone to Mt Eden on Saturday to ensure the refugee claimants had been given good advice and understood the consequences of refusing to be interviewed.

All seven claimed they were too ill to be interviewed.

‘The claimants were then examined by the Medical Officer at Mt Eden who found there was no medical reason for them not to be interviewed,’ Mr. Delamere said.

‘The Medical Officer, in his report, also noted that in his opinion, the claimants’ lack of cooperation with Immigration authorities was more of a ‘psychosocial’ nature than anything to do with their health.’

Mr. Delamere said that if the asylum seekers continued their policy of non-cooperation after having been found well enough to be interviewed, the Immigration Service would have no option but to decline their refugee status claims as the Service would not be able to make a decision based on fact or credibility.

‘In the event of their claims being declined, the asylum-seekers will still be able to appeal to the independent Refugee Status Appeal Authority,’ Mr. Delamere said.

‘They will not be removed from New Zealand until their appeal is decided.’

The Minister also questioned the support being given to the asylum seekers by Bill Smith of Amnesty International and Maire Leadbeater of a group calling itself ‘Justice for Asylum Seekers’.

The Minister said the process to determine refugee status claims is open and fair.

‘This is the first time any asylum seekers held in custody have failed to cooperate with Immigration Officials to this extent,’ Mr. Delamere said.

‘If Mr. Smith, Ms Leadbeater and the lawyers acting for these claimants, genuinely want to help them,’ the Minister said, ‘they should encourage them to cooperate with Immigration Service staff to determine the validity of their claims as quickly as possible, not go on a hunger strike.’


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