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UNHCR Not Best Pleased With NZ Immigration Bill

UNHCR Not Best Pleased With NZ Immigration Bill

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The UNHCR regional representative Richard Towle


Concern about how New Zealand was balancing security concerns vs humanitarian ones was raised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees regional representative today.

Oral submissions regarding New Zealand's latest update of Immigration law were being heard today by members of the Transport and Industrial Relations select committee.

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Richard Towle the UNHCR representative for Australia and NZ was over from Canberra to speak to the committee regarding the UNHCR's submission - a submission that contained a number of concerns at the balance between a states right to protect its borders and humanitarian objectives.

Of paramount concern to Mr Towle was a new section in the Immigration Bill that would see potential asylum seekers shunted out of NZ to a potentially safe third country. Mr Towle pointed out that while this system may work in a group of states bound together such as the European Union it was much more likely to see potential refugees shunted back to countries that do not have the same humanitarian concerns as New Zealand or Australia (ie a number of South East Asian states).

While at the committee Mr Towle was engaged for some time in a conversation with New Zealand First's Peter Brown.

Mr Brown who is himself an immigrant from the United Kingdom was concerned that New Zealand could be inundated with people who had been declared refugees in other countries. In the opinion of the UNHCR representative it was unlikely that people adjudged a refugee by say France could arrive in NZ and say 'Hey, I don't really like speaking French – can I be a refugee in NZ'.

Listen to Mr Towle's full oral submission

Scoop Audio.Scoop Streaming Audio (click here to listen): description
Scoop Audio.Click to download the file (MP3)

Read the UNHCR's full submission on New Zealand's latest Immigration Bill (2007)

  • NZ Immigration Bill Submission 07
  • ENDS

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