New Zealand To Share Asylum Seeker Prints

NZ to share asylum seeker prints

July 1, 2010

Asylum seekers who fail to be accepted by Australia will find it difficult to have another go in New Zealand after the countries signed an agreement to share fingerprints.

The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding for checking fingerprint information overnight at a meeting in London of the Five Country Conference (FCC), a grouping of immigration agencies from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, the United States and New Zealand.

NZ Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman said the agreement would help both countries' immigration agencies.

“It is important we are able to establish the true identity of people seeking entry to New Zealand so can we protect our borders and people,” he said in a statement.

A spokesman for Dr Coleman told NZPA when people applied for asylum in New Zealand their fingerprints would be taken and compared against fingerprints taken from asylum seekers in Australia. If no match was made their prints would be destroyed.

However, if there was a match further checks would be done to see if the same person was trying to seek asylum in the second country, which is not allowed.

Asylum seekers are not accepted as refugees until their status has been approved.

In his statement Dr Coleman said the fingerprints would also be used to identify early in the immigration process people with criminal records.

The FCC conference started in London on June 30 and ends on Thursday.