On Friday, the Algerian won his appeal to the Refugee Status Appeals Authority and was granted refugee status. He was then released from Mt Eden Prison, after two months in detention.
“The outcome shows the Immigration Service in a very bad light,” said Mr Locke.
Last Tuesday an Immigration Service spokesperson disparaged the Algerian as the owner of a false passport who had been jailed in Australia and later deported. The following day, in response to a parliamentary question from Mr Locke, Jim Sutton spoke for the Minister of Immigration, repeating the accusations.
“The government now has egg on its face. How can it justify imprisoning the asylum seeker for over two months. It was clear to me when I visited the man in jail a week ago (Monday, May 15) that he was not the slightest threat to society, and shouldn’t be behind bars,” said Mr Locke.
“In March, the court accepted a request from the Immigration Service that this asylum seeker be detained under Section 7 of the Immigration Act, which allows for the jailing of people deported from other countries.
“However, Section 7 was designed to cover real criminals, not asylum seekers,” he said.
Mr Locke will be asking the Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel tomorrow this week to instruct her department not to use Section 7 in this way.
“Asylum seekers have suffered enough in their home countries, without the added indignity of being thrown in jail when they get here.”