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Immigration Minister slams New Zealand Herald

Immigration Minister, Hon Tuariki Delamere, today strongly attacked the reporting standards of the country's largest newspaper.

In a statement, he said, "The Saturday, 20 November, edition of the New Zealand Herald gave prominent coverage to the personal attack on me by Hugh Fulton, Chairman of the Deportation Review Tribunal, in his minority opinion over my decision to deport Salah Alamleh.

"The Herald claimed in its story that I could not be reached for comment. This statement is a deliberate lie. On Friday afternoon I spent some 15 minutes putting my side of the story to Louisa Cleave, the Herald reporter.

"While I accept that criticism is part and parcel of the territory for any Minister of Immigration, I object when a newspaper, especially one as prominent as the NZ Herald, deliberately and knowingly tells lies in its quest to sensationalise its story.

"The decisions faced by the Minister of Immigration are never easy. When your decision involves the removal of a person, not only from New Zealand but also from their immediate family, this inevitably gives rise to the extremes in human emotion.

"Mr Fulton accuses me of making a decision that is cruel, indefensible and unjust in deporting Salah Alamleh. I have now reviewed the file and I am comfortable that my decision to deport Alamleh was the correct one and one that was in the best interests of New Zealand society.

"On 18 August 1998 Salah Alamleh was convicted of 15 charges of forgery and intent to defraud. He was sentenced to a prison sentence that was suspended because of his wife’s ill health. Since then, further charges of defrauding Social Welfare have been laid against Alamleh. We don’t need people such as Alamleh here in New Zealand and I do not regret for one second my decision to rid New Zealand of such a person.

"Mr Fulton is still smarting over my criticism of his previous decision to overrule my deportation order to let one Ben Makeran stay in New Zealand.

"Makeran is a thug who spent a couple of years in prison for beating the ‘crap’ out of his wife. I tried to deport him but Fulton decided that because Makeran claimed to send $20 a week to his mother in Kiribati, then as a humanitarian gesture he should be allowed to remain in New Zealand.

"It is not my responsibility to take into account the circumstances of Makeran’s mother who is not a New Zealand citizen and who does not live in New Zealand. Perhaps Fulton should go face to face with Makeran’s former wife, who wanted him deported, and convince her of the humanitarian righteousness of his decision.

"In the case of Salah Alamleh, it is true that the Alamleh family were faced with very difficult family circumstances at the time with Mrs Alamleh having been diagnosed with colon cancer. However, I consider it is my duty and responsibility to first weigh up the impact on the family of his deportation and then compare that to the right of New Zealand society to be free of people such as Alamleh.

"I make no apology for deciding in favour of ridding New Zealand society of Salah Alamleh. In doing so, however, I acknowledge that the Government must shoulder the burden of ensuring Mrs Alamleh receives appropriate assistance from the State."

Ends

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