Government defies ruling on asylum seekers

Green MP Keith Locke has produced figures that show the Government is ignoring a High Court ruling against large-scale detention of asylum seekers.

The figures come from answers to Written Questions he received today from Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel.

“Since Justice Baragwanath’s ruling on June 27, only three of the 61 asylum seekers arriving at the border without proof of identity have not been locked up,” said Mr Locke.

“This large scale detention is contrary to the Judge’s ruling that detention should only occur when ‘necessary’, not just because the identity of the refugee status claimant cannot be established.

In his ruling, Justice Baragwanath said that the “absence of evidence of identification” should be combined with evidence of a real risk of “offending or absconding”, given that the use of false papers may be “unavoidable for a bona fide refugee”.

“Continuing to detain so many people, including whole families with children, is contrary to New Zealand’s commitment to the 1951 Refugee Convention, as established by the Judge,” said Keith Locke.

“The Judge produced statistics showing that before the September 11 incident less than five per cent of refugee status claimants arriving in New Zealand were imprisoned.

“The government has apparently defied the Judge’s June ruling on the hope that it would win its case at the Court of Appeal, now being heard in Wellington.

“The government shouldn’t be allowed to thumb its nose at Court rulings.”