Asylum Seekers May Get Seperate Detention Facility
Cunliffe Hints At Change To Penal Detention For
Immigration Minister David Cunliffe today unveiled a package of proposals for a new Immigration Act – among which was the possibility of building separate detention facilities for asylum seekers who are at present detained in Auckland Central Remand Prison (ACRP).
In 2004 New Zealand the United Nations Committee Against Torture report criticised New Zealand for 'the detention of several asylum seekers in remand prisons, with no segregation from other detainees.' An article in the New Zealand Herald earlier this week carried allegations that detained asylum seekers were victimised by both prison guards and their fellow inmates while being held at ACRP.
In answer to questions today on why it was not possible at present to move those detained in prison to the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre (Mangere) Mr Cunliffe stated that Mangere did not have the correct level of security.
"At the moment Police cells are the only option. What I am signalling is that in future we hope to have some separate facilities that are appropriate to an airport type base – but that is work we still have to do, " explained Mr Cunliffe.
Mr Cunliffe was concerned that the mental well-being of those refugee applicants who were deemed a low risk would be jeopardised by fortifying sections of Mangere.
"I don't it would be appropriate in the extreme to have electric fences and barking dogs running around refugee migrants that are trying to settle into New Zealand," he said.
Until the Government constructs a separate facility to meet the concerns of the 2004 UN report though the mental well-being of the higher risk asylum seekers looks set to be catered for through the New Zealand penal regime.
Listen to Immigration Minister David Cunliffe answer questions on the penal detention of asylum seekers
Listen to the entire briefing and question and answer session regarding proposals for a new Immigration Act