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Seeking Fair & Humane Treatment For Asylum Seekers

Release: Justice For Asylum Seekers

Justice for Asylum Seekers (JFAS) is once again concerned that asylum seekers have been imprisoned in Mt Eden Prison and in particular at the on going detention of an Algerian man.

"We endorse the views of lawyer David Ryken and MP Keith Locke that the Algerian asylum seeker is being detained unlawfully. Our members have been visiting him to provide some support, because he has been distressed and isolated. We have been shocked to find out that he is not the only asylum seeker detained and we want the Minister of Immigration Lianne Dalziel and the Minister of Corrections Matt Robson to look into this situation urgently," says Justice for Asylum Seekers co-ordinator, Maree Smith.

"Asylum seekers come here asking for our help in their flight from persecution. Locking them up in cold cells at Mt Eden is inhumane, and breaches the spirit of UN refugee conventions which state that imprisoning asylum seekers should be avoided, except in exceptional circumstances", adds Maree.

The hostel run by the Auckland Refugee Council is the appropriate place for asylum seekers to stay so that they can receive support while they work to prepare their refugee status claims.

"We urge the new Ministers to remember that refugees are not criminals. They must review the situation of the Algerian asylum seeker and any other imprisoned asylum seekers urgently," concludes Maree.

Justice for Asylum Seekers will make representations to the Minister of Immigration and the Minister of Corrections about this issue.

Justice for Asylum Seekers formed last year to protest the on-going imprisonment of a group of 16 asylum seekers in Mt Eden Prison. The group went on hunger strike for 32 days and JFAS held regular vigils outside the prison and the Department of Immigration's Auckland office. The men were released after a High Court recommendation. Several of this group have now been granted refugee status.

Please note: Please refrain from naming the Algerian as it could endanger both him and his family if reported in the Algerian media or brought to the attention of Algerian authorities.

For more comment please contact Justice for Asylum Seekers Co-ordinator Maree Smith on (09) 629 1448.


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