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Government Sued Over Refugee Detentions

10 March 2002

The Human Rights Foundation and the Refugee Council have sued the government over the detention of people seeking refugee status. Human Rights Foundation Executive Director, Peter Hosking, said today that the proceedings filed in the High Court in Auckland claim that the New Zealand Immigration Service is not legally entitled routinely to detain asylum seekers, and that the detentions of refugee status claimants in prison or at the Mangere Detention Centre is illegal and in breach of the Bill of Rights.

“International guidelines make it clear that asylum-seekers, as a general principle, should not be detained,” said Peter Hosking. “We are asking the Court to rule that approximately 80 detentions which have occurred to date under the current NZIS Operational Instructions are unlawful and invalid.”

The plaintiffs have retained Queens Counsel Dr Rodney Harrison, civil liberties lawyer Margaret Lewis and refugee lawyer Deborah Manning as its legal team. The claim is expected to be heard by the High Court in early May 2002.

The Human Rights Foundation is an independent NGO (non-governmental organisation) promoting human rights through education, research and advocacy. It was launched by the Governor-General, its Patron, in Auckland on 18 December 2001.

For more information on the Human Rights Foundation, and to view a copy of the statement of claim filed in the proceedings, visit the Human Rights Foundation’s website at www.humanrights.co.nz

For general information about refugees and asylum seekers, and the text of the relevant guidelines and the Refugee Convention, see the site of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees at www.unhcr.ch

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