INDEPENDENT NEWS

Delamere queries asylum seekers' motives

Published: Thu 18 Nov 1999 09:54 AM
The Minister of Immigration, Hon Tuariki Delamere, today questioned the motives behind the claims made in the media by two of the asylum seekers currently fasting in Mt Eden Prison.
Mr Delamere said he was disappointed, but not surprised, that the men and their lawyers had decided to go public, rather than have their claims heard through the normal legal process.
These claimants, and their lawyers, hope that by taking their claims to the media, it will arouse public sympathy and somehow influence the outcome. I think it's outrageous that lawyers who are supposed to uphold the process of law appear to be trying to subvert that process.
“But in trying this approach, they underestimate the intelligence of New Zealanders,” Mr Delamere said.
“These asylum-seekers are the equivalent of ‘boatpeople’. The only difference is that they arrived by air.
“They are illegal migrants. They arrived without any visas or passports and New Zealand law allows for the detention of illegal migrants while their claims for refugee status are determined.
“It is standard practice in countries such as Australia, Canada, and the United States to hold illegal migrants in custody while their refugee status claims are processed,” the Minister said.
“On every occasion the Immigration Service has applied to the District Court to have the asylum-seekers kept in custody, the judges have agreed.
“The Immigration Service has made every effort to decide the claims of all 16 men currently being held in Mt Eden Prison as quickly as possible, and to let them take their cases to the independent appeal tribunal,” the Minister said.
“However, the claimants, with the support of their lawyers, have frustrated and obstructed this process at every step.
“If their claims are so compelling, one has to ask why they are adopting this strategy,” Mr Delamere said.
“The hardship the 16 fasting claimants in Mt. Eden Prison are inflicting on themselves by adopting this strategy appears to be the result of some misguided advice they have been given,” the Minister said.
Mr Delamere again urged the men to let the normal process take its course by allowing the independent Refugee Status Appeal Authority to hear their claims.
Ends

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