- Caritas opposes this Bill and strongly recommends it not proceed. Refugees are not criminals and should not be arbitrarily detained. The experience of our neighbours in Australia is that mandatory detention further traumatises refugees, and has very high financial and social costs.
- Aspects of the Bill relating to ‘mass arrival’ groups are based in fear of the unlikely scenario of boat people reaching New Zealand shores, and will generate still more fear and hostility towards refugees and asylum seekers.
- However, under the cover of this emotive debate, significant changes affecting a much wider group of people are being introduced. The Bill provides for suspension of determination of refugee claims. It also contains restrictions on judicial review. These changes will affect a wider group than the ‘mass arrivals’ in the theoretical situation discussed in the Explanatory Note.
- We are deeply concerned that the Bill and associated policy changes are based on flawed assumptions and understandings of New Zealand’s obligations under the Refugee Convention.
- If the Bill does proceed, we strongly recommend:
- the provisions around suspension of determination of refugee claims, and restrictions on judicial review should not proceed;
- there should a time limit of a maximum of 6 weeks in secure accommodation for asylum seekers focused on establishing identity and any security issues;
- no child should be detained, whether or not accompanied by parents;
- families should always be kept together;
- successful refugee claimants must have the same access to family reunification and permanent residence as all other categories of immigrants.
- Caritas wishes to appear before the Select Committee to speak to our submission.
The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office also made a submission on the Bill which is below.