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Source: Human Rights Commission

New Zealanders being detained in Australia were amongst those who tabled a petition in Parliament today, calling on the New Zealand Government to expose Australia’s inhumane deportation policies during the 2020 UN review of Australia’s track record on human rights.

Petitioner, Filipa Payne was supported by the NZ Human Rights Commission and Community Law Centres O Aotearoa and 211 others in the petition that will be tabled in Parliament this week.

MPs were briefed on the issues that need to be raised with the United Nations by the petitioners at an event hosted by Louisa Wall MP in Parliament today, which included a presentation from Clive Paku who was detained and deported from Australia.

The MPs also heard from those being detained at Yongah Hill Detention Centre in Perth during a live cross to see the conditions they are being held in.

Australia is being reviewed by the UN on its human rights record in October 2020.

“We’re calling on the NZ Government to formally raise objection on the world stage to the harsh deportation and detention policies being carried out by Australia that mainly affect NZ Citizens during this review,” said Filipa Payne. “They arrive in New Zealand sick, angry, sad, disconnected, with few housing and employment options. This is a recipe for disaster for the individuals, the family they have been forced to leave behind and for NZ society.”

New Zealanders are now the second-largest nationality being held in Australia’s detention centres, making up 10.9% of detainees. Iranians make up the largest group.

“There is a strong race discrimination component in these policies by the Australian government,” said Race Relations Commissioner, Meng Foon. “This discrimination begins in Australia and impacts on New Zealand, and disproportionately affects Māori, Pacific people and ethnic minorities.” 

“We echo the concerns of the Australian Human Rights Commission, who have highlighted the discriminatory treatment of New Zealanders, while they are being processed through the Australian immigration detention system,” he said.

“I urge the New Zealand government to make strong recommendations to the UN when Australia’s human rights record is being reviewed later this year. These human rights issues must be addressed.” 

Community Law voiced its concerns about access to justice issues created by Australia’s policies.

“The greatest injustice is falling on those who have never been convicted of a crime or have been convicted of low-level crimes, served their 6 months in jail, then have been detained for extended periods,” said Community Law CEO, Sue Moroney. “Australia’s policies mean they end up with a “life sentence” of separation from family and of on-going mental health issues caused by the conditions in the detention centres. The impact on them and their families is disproportionate to their crime.”

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