INDEPENDENT NEWS

Amnesty Concerned For Jailed Asylum Seekers

Published: Fri 5 Nov 1999 09:13 AM
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL - International Secretariat, 1 Easton St, London WC1X 8DJ, London, UK.
New Zealand: Amnesty International Headquarters Raises Concerns About Asylum-seekers With Government.
In a letter to Immigration Minister Tuariki Delamare, the International Secretariat of Amnesty International has expressed serious concern about the jailing of asylum-seekers.
"We are very concerned, in particular, about the imprisonment of a man who the authorities apparently know bears marks consistent with torture on his body," Australia-South Pacific Researcher Heinz Schürmann-Zeggel said from the human rights organization?s London headquarters. "For a person who has fled from torture, being in prison often means re-living the trauma."
International standards state that asylum-seekers should not normally be detained. In exceptional cases, for certain specified reasons, it may be permissible to detain an individual for a limited period, and only after full consideration of all possible alternatives. Moreover, if asylum-seekers are detained on any such grounds, the detention should be given a regular and meaningful review by a court or judicial body.
"The Immigration Minister asserted that it is ?standard policy? to detain people with apparently ?manifestly unfounded? asylum claims. This fails to recognize the exceptional grounds for detention under international standards and flouts New Zealand?s human rights obligations," Amnesty International said.
"In any case, if the authorities have been alerted that an asylum-seeker shows signs of torture, how can the Immigration Minister deem his claim to be?manifestly unfounded?"

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