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Concerns raised over immigration review
20 June 2006
The Human Rights Commission says some proposed changes to the Immigration Act could breach international treaties.
In its submission the commission lists several areas of concern about the immigration review paper.
Submissions on the review can be made until June 30.
The draft proposals represent the most comprehensive review of immigration laws since the present Immigration Act was passed in 1987.
New Zealand's Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan told National Radio that some proposed changes contravened international treaties; one such was an exclusion on health grounds.
“It's very clear that the international covenant on civil and political rights require states not to discriminate on a number of bases; race, ethnic origin, social status and so on and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act itself has a very strong anti-discrimination provision which includes non discrimination on the basis of ability.”
The review is part of NZ First's support agreement with the Government and its immigration spokesman Peter Brown was unapologetic on the health issue.
“NZ First has consistently said our immigration policy should be skill-based, people come here with good health, come here crime-free and are prepared to make a commitment to the country,” he told National Radio.
“If we are going to open the doors to people in poor health that need hospital treatment or ongoing long-term medical treatment then we've got to question whether we are sane.”
In its submission the HRC also raised concerns that applicants would be denied natural justice and the right to a fair hearing if information about them was kept classified.
It feared people could be denied entry if they “glorify terrorism” a clause that could affect freedom of expression, and that a proposal to fine airlines if they failed to stop people entering the country on false documents could impact on New Zealand's commitment to protect asylum seekers.
The Green Party has previously raised concerns over plans to extend arrest and detention powers to immigration officials and security agencies.
It said proposals for iris and facial recognition scans for identification were unnecessary and would move New Zealand closer to a “big brother” society.
Also under the review the Government was looking at rolling the four different appeal bodies into one and giving only limited recourse to the courts on points of law.
Other parts of the Act's review proposed:
Simplifying the visa/permit system;
More grounds for excluding entry of non-citizens;
More access to classified information for making immigration decisions;
Strengthening obligations on third parties such as immigrants sponsors, employers and schools.