RefNZ News





23 December 2003  New Zealand now party to all 12 UN terrorism conventions

22 December 2003  High Court at Christchurch sets aside decision of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority

20 December 2003  390 relatives of Tampa boatpeople to be resettled in New Zealand

19 December 2003  New Zealand procedures for detaining refugee claimants examined in law review article

16 December 2003
 High Court at Auckland dismisses attempt by former refugee claimant to stay charges alleging fraud in the context of his refugee claim

9 December 2003
 High Court of Australia delivers split decision on refugee claims by homosexuals

1 December 2003
 Government aid to assist refugees into paid employment

24 November 2003  Afghan families reunited

22 October 2003
 Counter Terrorism Act passed

22 October 2003
 New support service for refugee children

17 October 2003
 Minister of Immigration says she respects the neutrality and independence of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority

16 October 2003  Customs Annual Report

8 October 2003
 Border officials conduct exercise to deal with boatpeople

6 October 2003  Man jailed for one year on people-smuggling charge

6 October 2003  Resettlement of Tampa families in New Zealand challenged

4 October 2003  Family members of Tampa boatpeople to be resettled in New Zealand

3 October 2003  High Court dismisses challenge to credibility finding of Refugee Status Appeals Authority

30 September 2003  High Court dismisses challenge to decisions of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority

24 September 2003
 New Zealand signs the optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture

22 September 2003
  Court of Appeal judgments on detention of asylum-seekers and on the burden of proof now available on Case Search page

19 September 2003  Lawyers and Conveyancers Bill may see immigration lawyers calling themselves consultants

10 September 2003
 Afghan man refused refugee status charged with attempted murder

4 September 2003
 Zimbabwe refugee facing charges of rape, kidnapping and infecting another person with the HIV virus

3 September 2003  Refugee legal aid costs NZ$1.4 million annually

3 September 2003
 Department of Labour investigation clears Immigration Service staff of lying

3 September 2003
 Immigration Act to be amended to facilitate removal of persons refused refugee status

24 August 2003
 New Zealand to sign the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture

21 August 2003
 Telephone interpreting service interim report

9 August 2003  Advance Passenger Screening system launched

5 August 2003  Contact details for Tampa refugees provided to Australian police

3 August 2003  Cost of removing illegal immigrants disclosed; detained asylum-seekers receive weekly allowance

1 August 2003  Algerian man detained in maximum security granted refugee status  

31 July 2003
 Court of Appeal rules that refugee claimants have a responsibility to establish the claim to refugee status and explains how the benefit of the doubt principle should be applied

15 July 2003
 People-smuggling charge

2 July 2003
 Border Security Bill passes first reading stage

1 July 2003  New immigration fees come into force

25 June 2003  Australian government to appeal against ruling of Family Court of Australia

24 June 2003  Lawyers and Conveyancers Bill prevents contingency fee payment in immigration cases

20 June 2003  World Refugee Day

19 June 2003  Family Court of Australia rules indefinite detention of child asylum-seekers illegal  

18 June 2003  Border Security Bill introduced to Parliament - Immigration Service to be given power to stop people boarding aircraft  

17 June 2003  New Zealand joins the International Organisation for Migration

29 May 2003
 New immigration fees

29 May 2003  Man declined refugee status sentenced to jail for five months after threatening to kill an immigration officer

15 May 2003  Funding increase to increase removals of failed refugee status claimants and to investigate and prosecute immigration fraud

14 May 2003  South Korea grants rare refugee status to African asylum-seekers

12 May 2003  Adult ESOL strategy launched

2 May 2003  Procedures to detect stolen passports strengthened   

1 May 2003  High Commissioner for Refugees to help Indonesia deal with illegal migrants

1 May 2003
 Indonesia will intercept boatpeople heading for Australia and New Zealand

30 April 2003  People-smuggling conference declared a success

30 April 2003  Telephone interpreting service pilot begins

20 April 2003  Japanese asylum figures published; Tokyo District Court orders payment of compensation

16 April 2003  Court of Appeal rules that policy relating to detention of refugee status claimants is lawful

11 April 2003  Somali refugee charged with murder found not guilty by reason of insanity

10 April 2003  Man declined refugee status appears in court again

7 April 2003  Pakistani refugee claimant given jail sentence

5 April 2003  Security risk certificate issued in relation to Algerian man

4 April 2003  Two men declined refugee status appear in court

1 April 2003  New anti-terrorism measure introduced to Parliament

21 March 2003  Auckland Regional Migrant Resource Centre opened

20 March 2003  House of Lords dismisses refugee claim by conscientious objectors

10 March 2003  South Pacific anti-terrorism unit proposed

1 March 2003  New Zealand passports traded on black market

1 March 2003  Algerian man remanded in custody

27 February 2003  New Zealand to help draft model counter-terrorism legislation for Pacific Islands Forum countries

19 February 2003  Judicial review of decision of Refugee Status Appeals Authority fails

19 February 2003  Special provisions for Zimbabwe nationals extended

4 February 2003  High Court of Australia reads down privative clause

2 February 2003  Pakistani refugee claimant appears on passport charge

1 February 2003  Algerian refugee claimant appeals decline of refugee status

24 January 2003  Refugee Status Appeals Authority - position openings

18 January 2003  Algerian man opposes filming rights

18 January 2003  Refugees from Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and from Nauru arrive in New Zealand

13 January 2003  Refugee health costs cause concern

11 January 2003  Algerian man remanded in custody

9 January 2003  Refugees processed in Papua New Guinea and Nauru to resettle in New Zealand

6 January 2003  Customs test biometric identification system

4 January 2003  Algerian man remanded in custody

23 December 2003 The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Phil Goff, has said that New Zealand is now fully compliant with its international obligations to counter terrorism, having become party to all 12 United Nations terrorism conventions. The first terrorism conventions related to aviation security and followed aircraft hijackings in the 1970's. They covered hostage taking, internationally protected persons (including diplomats) and nuclear material.  The focus in the 1980's was on maritime terrorism, following the hijacking of the Achille Lauro, while three further conventions, on plastic explosives, terrorist bombings and terrorist financing, were negotiated in the 1990's.  The Minister says that a year ago New Zealand became a party to the terrorist bombings and terrorist financing conventions and passage of the Counter Terrorism Bill in October 2003 cleared the way for New Zealand to become party to the final two, for which New Zealand diplomats deposited the instruments of accession last Friday, covering the Making of Plastic Explosives for the Purposes of Detection, and the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.

[Hon Phil Goff, "NZ now party to all 12 UN terrorism conventions", Media Statement, Tuesday, 23 December 2003]

22 December 2003 In the High Court at Christchurch William Young J has set aside a decision of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority on the grounds that the decision contained errors of fact of a substantial nature.  The case has been remitted to the Refugee Status Appeals Authority for reconsideration.

[Sakran v Minister of Immigration (High Court Christchurch, CIV2003-409-001876, 22 December 2003, William Young J)]

20 December 2003 The New Zealand government has agreed to bring about 390 relatives of the Tampa boatpeople and other Afghan refugees to New Zealand for resettlement.  The new arrivals, coming in three groups over the next six months, form part of New Zealand's annual quota of 750 refugees.

[Theresa Garner, "Refugee an 'orphan' no more", Weekend Herald, December 20, 2003, p A6]

19 December 2003 A paper has been published examining the procedures in New Zealand for detaining asylum-seekers.  The author discusses the recent decision of the Court of Appeal in Attorney-General v Refugee Council of New Zealand [2003] 2 NZLR 572 (CA) and argues that the balance has swung too far in favour of national security, but concedes that the Immigration Amendment Act 2002 has gone some way to rectify the situation by providing conditional release procedures.

[Charlotte Frater, "Detention of refugees in New Zealand law: striking a balance between refugee rights and national security" (2003) 34 VUWLR 665]

16 December 2003 In the High Court at Auckland Baragwanath J has dismissed an application for review challenging a decision of the District Court which dismissed an application for stay of an indictment which included counts alleging that the applicant, with intend to defraud, used a document capable of being used to obtain a benefit, namely an application for refugee status for the purpose of obtaining for himself a benefit, namely refugee status in New Zealand.  The applicant, a national of Pakistan, first arrived in New Zealand on 12 January 1991 and made oral application for refugee status under a false name.  In the subsequent written application for refugee status he continued to use that same false name.  Before the refugee application was determined the applicant left New Zealand.  He later returned to New Zealand nine years later on 27 March 2000 using his correct name, married a New Zealand citizen and lodged a residence application based on that marriage.  In the District Court the stay application was based on Article 31 of the Refugee Convention.  That Article provides that Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who enter or are present in their territory without authorisation.  In the District Court it was held that once a refugee claimant gains illegal entry to a country he or she must thereafter obey all the domestic laws and Article 31 does not confer immunity from prosecution for making subsequent false declarations in support of the refugee claim.  In the High Court this decision was challenged by way of an application for judicial review. Three major issues were identified. First, the factual basis on which the application for review was to be determined, second, the effect of a refugee claimant leaving New Zealand and third, where the line was to be drawn between offending that should not be prosecuted because of the protection conferred by Article 31.  As to the first issue Baragwanath J rejected the applicant's submission that the Court was required to assume that the applicant was and is entitled to refugee status by virtue simply of his claim for it on 12 January 1991.  Even in a criminal case there is at least a threshold burden on the defendant to point to some factual basis for advancing a particular defence.  There being no evidence to support the stay application and the subsequent judicial review proceedings, the case failed at the threshold.  The other two issues having fallen away, Baragwanath J touched on them only briefly.  On the issue of confidentiality, while s 129T did not apply as it was not in force on the date the refugee application was lodged, the same principles applied by way of analogous development of the common law.  In this regard it had not been shown by the applicant that his safety or that of any other person would be in danger by the disclosure in the criminal proceedings of details of his refugee claim.  As to the third issue the Court was of the view that the applicant had failed to establish on the facts that the Executive, in the persons of the immigration officers and of Crown Solicitors were in breach of the Refugee Convention.  However, the Court did make observations on the question whether it is possible to reconcile s 229A of the Crimes Act 1961 to Article 31 of the Refugee Convention and on the appropriate approach of the courts should inconsistency be found.  Overall, the application for judicial review was dismissed.

[Ghuman v Registrar of the Auckland District Court (High Court Auckland, CIV 2003-404-4373, 16 December 2003, Baragwanath J)]

9 December 2003 The issue before the High Court of Australia in Appellant S395/2002 v Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs [2003] HCA 71 (9 December 2003) (Gleeson CJ, McHugh, Gummow, Kirby, Hayne, Callinan & Heydon JJ) was whether a refugee claim by a homosexual could be defeated by a requirement that he act discreetly in his country of origin, thereby avoiding persecutory harm.  In separate judgments (McHugh & Kirby JJ and Gummow & Hayne JJ) the majority held that the statement that refugee claimants are required, or can be expected, to take reasonable steps to avoid persecutory harm, is wrong in principle.  The sole issue is whether there is a real chance of the individual being persecuted.  In his dissenting judgment Gleeson CJ took the view that the case as argued by the appellants in the High Court had not been advanced before the Refugee Review Tribunal or in the Federal Court and  should await a case in which the point was properly raised and argued.  Callinan & Heydon JJ were of the same view.  The judgments of the majority are notable for the fact that none of them discuss the relevant international human rights norms or the burgeoning international jurisprudence on the rights of homosexuals under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966.  The full text of the decision is available on the website of the Australasian Legal Information Institute (

1 December 2003 The Minister of Social Development and Employment has launched a NZ$21 million strategy to assist migrants and refugees into paid employment.  As part of the strategy launch the Minister formally opened Work and Income's Multilingual Contact Centre, a service enabling clients to speak to a Work and Income staff member in their own language.

[Hon Steve Maharey, "New strategy targets employment for migrants", Media Statement, Monday 1 December 2003]

24 November 2003 The New Zealand government has resettled in New Zealand three Afghan families separated by Australia's refugee policy which prevents certain categories of refugees from bringing immediate family members to Australia.

[NZPA, "Refugee family reunited", NZ Herald, Monday, November 24, 2003, p A4]

22 October 2003 Parliament has enacted the Counter Terrorism Act 2003 which expands on the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.

[Hon Phil Goff, "Counter Terrorism Act boosts Government fight against terrorism", Media Statement, Wednesday, 22 October 2003]

22 October 2003 A new support service for refugee children with severe behavioural difficulties has opened its doors.  The new service is called On Tracc and is the first such service in New Zealand.  It is provided by the Ministry of Education, Auckland District Health Board and the Department of Child, Youth and Family.  Based in Mt Roskill it will offer assessment, therapeutic intervention and family and school support to young people up to the age of nineteen.  On Tracc will operate for two years as a pilot linked to the High and Complex Needs Unit in Wellington.

[Amy Patterson, "Help for young refugees", Central Leader, Wednesday, October 22, 2003, p 3]

17 October 2003 The Minister of Immigration, Hon Lianne Dalziel, says she respects the neutrality and independence of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority and that she believes the Authority has an important role as an independent body.

[Hon Lianne Dalziel, "Dalziel comments on RSAA", Media Statement, Friday, 17 October 2003]

16 October 2003 The Annual Report for 2002/03 of the New Zealand Customs Service shows that it is increasing staffing levels by 160 and investing between NZ$15 and NZ$25 million in x-ray technology.  In the 2002/03 financial year it cleared 6.994 million arriving and departing air travellers, close to the previous year when 7.013 million passengers were cleared.

[Hon Rick Barker, "Customs Annual Report outlines significant border changes", Media Statement, Thursday, 16 October 2003]

8 October 2003 More than a hundred and fifty personnel have taken part in an operation in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf based on the hypothetical arrival of a vessel holding thirty illegal migrants.  The exercise involved staff from Customs, the Navy, Police, New Zealand Immigration Service, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

["Migrant ship exercise", NZ Herald, Wednesday, October 8, 2003, p A3]

6 October 2003 A Vietnamese man who holds as Australian passport has been sentenced to one year's imprisonment under new people-smuggling legislation.  He admitted supplying a female associate in Vietnam with a stolen Australian passport for AUD30,000.  

['People-smuggler jailed", NZ Herald, Monday, October 6, 2003, p A3]

6 October 2003 The leader of the Act Party, Richard Prebble, is reported as saying that there is no rational basis for the families of Tampa boatpeople getting priority over others who applied to New Zealand for refugee status.

["Tampa refugees' families jump in queue: Prebble", NZ Herald, Monday October 6, 2003, p A3]

4 October 2003 Family members of the Tampa boatpeople accepted by New Zealand will be moved to New Zealand from Afghanistan in a humanitarian gesture to reunite some of the boatpeople with their relatives.  The influx will more than double the number of people who have settled in New Zealand as a result of the Tampa saga.  The taxpayer cost of the operation, on top of the NZ$1.4 million spent on dealing with the initial intake of a hundred and thirty-one, will include flying the relatives to New Zealand and resettling them here.  One source is reported as saying that the number of family members arriving would be three hundred, but another gives a lower figure.

[Eugene Bingham & Catherine Masters, "Families of Tampa refugees on way" Weekend Herald, Saturday, October 4, 2003, front page]

3 October 2003 In the High Court at Auckland Fisher J has dismissed as unarguable a judicial review application which alleged irrationality of an adverse credibility finding by the Refugee Status Appeals Authority.

[Sadeghi v Refugee Status Appeals Authority (High Court Auckland, CIV2003-404-     , 3 October 2003, Fisher J)]

30 September 2003 In the High Court at Auckland Harrison J has dismissed two applications for review which challenged decisions of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority (RSAA) declining the refugee applications made by two young male Iranians.  The challenge to the RSAA decisions was based on the categories of unreasonableness and error of law.  In the first case the Court accepted that the RSAA's decision contained imperfections but was satisfied that the Authority had had a sufficient factual foundation for drawing inferences adverse to the refugee claimant.  As there were findings which individually and cumulatively provided a proper basis for the RSAA's decision, the Authority had not acted unreasonably.  In the second case the challenge was described as "hopeless" as the refugee claim was overtly implausible.  The plaintiff, said the Judge, would have had to have made an extraordinarily convincing impression to rebutt a presumption of fabrication.  Furthermore, the RSAA's decision on the one core ground for rejecting the plaintiff's story was expressed in unimpeachable terms.  As all the findings made by the Authority were inferentially available to it, no reviewable error could be identified.

[U & V v Refugee Status Appeals Authority (High Court Auckland, CIV2003-404-002530, 30 September 2003, Harrison J)]

24 September 2003 The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Phil Goff, has signed the United Nations Optional Protocol against Torture, making New Zealand one of the first countries to do so.  The Protocol is aimed at preventing torture by establishing an expert inspection team to visit places of detention in countries that have ratified the Protocol.  The monitoring regime established by the visits will report on conditions of detention and will actively deter abusive practices.  Legislative changes will be implemented in order to ratify the Protocol.

[Hon Phil Goff, "NZ signs UN protocol against torture", Media Statement, Wednesday, 24 September 2003]

22 September 2003 The full text of the decisions of the Court of Appeal in Attorney-General v Refugee Council of New Zealand Inc [2003] 2 NZLR 577 and in Jiao v Refugee Status Appeals Authority (CA167/02, 31 July 2003) have been added to the Case Search page of this website.

19 September 2003 Some observers query whether once the Lawyers and Conveyancers Bill comes into force more lawyers may choose simply to call themselves immigration consultants, employment advocates or resource management specialists rather than lawyers, with legal practice narrowing to focus on litigation and conveyancing.  At present there is no regulation of immigration consultants, but the Minister of Immigration, Hon Lianne Dalziel, has said this is unsatisfactory and she plans to introduce some degree of regulation.

[Catriona MacLennan, "Costs of regulation may see immigration lawyers calling themselves consultants", LawNews, Issue No. 35, September 19, 2003, pp 5 & 9]

10 September 2003 A 27-year-old Afghan man has been charged with attempting to murder a woman in Auckland after allegedly shooting her at her home.  She may be paralysed for life.  The incident occurred just four days after the man was released from prison where he had been held for six months because he refused to apply for an Afghan passport.  He was released a day after the High Court found an Iranian bigamist who was also refusing to apply for a passport was being held unlawfully under the Act.  The man reportedly arrived in New Zealand on a false passport in 1999, claimed refugee status but was refused.  An urgent law change was rushed through Parliament last week to close the loophole.  The Minister of Immigration is reported as saying that the Afghan man was the only other person freed because of the High Court ruling.  

[Patrick Gower, "Accused set free four days before woman shot", NZ Herald, Wednesday, 10 September 2003, front page]

4 September 2003 A Zimbabwe man, reportedly a refugee, has been charged with rape, kidnapping and infecting another person with the HIV virus in Auckland.  He is also charged with wounding with reckless disregard to cause grievous bodily harm, criminal nuisance, assaulting a female, threatening to kill and stealing a motor vehicle.  He has been remanded in custody for one week.

[Patrick Gower, "Refugee on HIV, rape charges, NZ Herald, Thursday, September 4, 2003, front page]

3 September 2003 Figures provided by the Legal Services Agency show that almost NZ$6 million, including GST, has been paid to lawyers for refugee work in the past four years.  The breakdown is $1,283,541 (2002-2003), $1,791,032 (2001-2002), $840,995 (2000-2001) and $659,038 (1999-2000).  These figures do not include GST.  The Legal Services Agency says lawyers are paid a set hourly rate according to a range from $95 to $165 per hour.  The rate depends on a lawyer's level of experience and the forum category.

[Sue Fox, "Refugees costing $1.4m a year in legal aid", East & Bays Courier, Wednesday, September 3, 2003, front page]

3 September 2003 The Government has released the Report on an Investigation into the Department of Labour's Management of Information in Relation to Mr Ahmed Zaoui by James Buwalda, Chief Executive of the Department of Labour.  This report presents findings and conclusions from an investigation into allegations of lying by staff of the Department of Labour.  The allegations related to the management of official information regarding the arrival, detention and processing of an Algerian man seeking refugee status in New Zealand.  Mr Buwalda found no evidence of a conspiracy to deceive but concluded that the Department's response to the request for official information and the subsequent review of that response did not appear to have been managed in accordance with Departmental guidelines for dealing with official information.  These failures reflected a combination of poor records management, inadequate consultation and failure to fully scrutinise information.  As a consequence of the investigation he has initiated disciplinary action and is reviewing Departmental guidelines relating to the management of official information.  The Minister of Labour, Hon Margaret Wilson, says the investigation and action taken are appropriate and will help maintain the public service's reputation.  The case shows the far reach of the Official Information Act 1982 as it covered, in this instance, an off-the-cuff remarks in an in-house email media log.  Treating such logs as official information is a very high standard for public servants to maintain, but the government believes high standards are necessary for a strong public service.  The results of the investigation are available on the Department of Labour's website  The Ombudsman, Mel Smith, is reported as saying that he will complete his own inquiry.  National MP Murray McCully has described the Buwalda report as a "shabby little white wash".

[James Buwalda, Report on an Investigation into the Department of Labour's Management of Information in Relation to Mr Ahmed Zaoui (28 August 2003); Hon Margaret Wilson, "High standards expected of the public service", Media Statement, Wednesday, 3 September 2003; Helen Tunnah, "Ombudsman gets final say over 'lie in unison' memo", NZ Herald, Thursday, September 4, 2003, front page; Helen Tunnah, "Probe a 'shabby whitewash'", NZ Herald, Thursday, September 4, 2003, p A5]

3 September 2003 The Minister of Immigration has introduced into Parliament a Bill which will facilitate the removal from New Zealand of persons declined refugee status.  Under the proposed amendments, it will be possible to detain an individual if his or her own lack of co-operation prevents removal.  A judge of the District Court will also be able to order the individual to sign an application for a passport.  The amendments were introduced after an Iranian man declined refugee status refused to sign forms to get a passport. He was released from custody last month after the High Court ruled that there was no power to detain a person who refused to co-operate in such a way.  It is reported that eight days after the man was refused refugee status he married a New Zealand woman and was, as a consequence, allowed to stay in New Zealand on humanitarian grounds.  It was later discovered that the marriage was bigamous and the second wife has reportedly gone to Australia with her child to try to keep away from the man whose first wife is understood to be in Iran.  He was subsequently convicted of bigamy.  It is reported that he had two more appeals to stay declined and is also seeking a judicial review.

[Helen Tunnah, "Law change to ease deportation" NZ Herald, Wednesday, September 3, 2003, p A13]

24 August 2003 The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Phil Goff, has announced that New Zealand will sign the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 1984.  The Optional Protocol will establish an international expert inspection team that will visit places of detention in countries which have ratified the Protocol which also obliges countries that ratify it to establish a national body to undertake regular inspections.  That means that in New Zealand the Protocol will apply to the treatment of people in such places as prisons, police cells, residential facilities for children and young people, psychiatric and other medical institutions, some aged residential care facilities (eg, for people with dementia), asylum-seeker detention centres and Defence Force detention facilities.  The Protocol is aimed at preventing torture rather than bringing torturers to justice after the event.  The government's next step is to consider whether ratifying the Protocol requires amendments to existing relevant legislation or just a single amendment to the Crimes of Torture Act 1989.  Mr Goff hopes to sign the Optional Protocol next month when he is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

[Hon Phil Goff, "NZ to sign UN protocol against torture", Media Statement, Sunday, 24 August 2003]

21 August 2003 The telephone interpreting service which began on 30 April 2003 has fielded more than 2,000 calls to the six government agencies supporting the scheme.  The Minister of Ethnic Affairs says that the service is showing early signs of success, with capacity to spare.  The government agencies concerned had expected double the number of calls over the sixteen weeks the scheme has been running.  Mandarin was the most requested language with 646 calls, followed by Samoan (207), Cantonese (201) and Korean (169).  Cabinet is due to review Language Line later this year to decide whether to continue it beyond the one-year pilot period.  A radio campaign targeting all ethnic and access radio stations nationwide is due to start in September to raise awareness of Language Line.  In 1996 census statistics, 250,000 people in New Zealand were of a non-English-speaking background and 50,000 could not speak English or had a very poor command of the language.

[Hon Chris Carter, "Non-English speakers encouraged to use language line", Media Statement, Thursday, 21 August 2003]

9 August 2003 A NZ$3 million Advance Passenger Screening system was launched yesterday at Auckland International Airport by the Minister of Immigration, Hon Lianne Dalziel.  Under the system passengers' passports are swiped at a computer terminal before boarding a flight and an information database determines whether they are eligible to travel.  The system has been in place in Australia for five years and similar systems have been piloted in the USA and Canada.  The project aims to control the threat of terrorism and to clamp down on illegal immigrants by preventing passengers not allowed in New Zealand from boarding a plane to the country.  The Minister of Immigration says that New Zealand residents not born in New Zealand, and visitors to New Zealand, must ensure their passports and visas are current before attempting to travel in or out of New Zealand, to ensure they have the right of entry, or re-entry.

[Stuart Dye, "High-tech crackdown on most unwanted" Weekend Herald, August 9, 2003 p A6; Hon Lianne Dalziel, "Extending New Zealand's borders offshore", Media Statement, Friday 8 August 2003]

5 August 2003 It is reported that the Australian police requested that the names and addresses of the Tampa refugees in New Zealand be provided to them.  The New Zealand Immigration Service was initially unhappy about supplying the information but after legal advice the Service obtained the addresses from the Refuge and Migrant Service and forwarded them to the New Zealand police who passed the information to the Australian officials.  It is reported that the Australian police were seeking witnesses for a court case against Tampa people-smugglers.

[Audrey Young & NZPA, "Dalziel in firing line over Tampa", NZ Herald, Tuesday, August 5, 2003, p A2]

3 August 2003 It is reported that 44% of the NZ$124m immigration budget is spent on the consequences of immigration flows on infrastructure, laws and policies.  The New Zealand Immigration Service is expecting the cost of removing illegal immigrants to rise from NZ$9m to NZ$11m in 2003.  In 2002 about 1,600 illegal immigrants were removed but the NZIS is aiming to remove an extra 250 people from countries such as Iran, Iraq and central African states.  It estimates these illegal immigrants (non-genuine refugees, criminals and people who have overstayed temporary permits) will cost NZ$9,000 each to remove.  Fifty will cost an extra NZ$5,625 each to remove because they will be deported to countries on airlines which require that armed guards accompany them.  It is also reported that the government has begun paying refugee claimants a weekly allowance of NZ$21 while they are detained.  It is estimated that this will cost taxpayers about NZ$310,000 a year.

[Guyon Espiner, "Counting the cost of immigration", Sunday Star-Times, August 3, 2003, p A5]

1 August 2003 An Algerian man who has been held in solitary confinement for nearly nine months at Paremoremo Prison has been granted refugee status by the Refugee Status Appeals Authority.  However the Minister of Immigration has yet to decide whether to deport him on the grounds that he is a security risk.

[Catherine Masters, "Secret file keeps [...] in jail", Weekend Herald, Saturday, August 2, 2003, front page]

31 July 2003 In a judgment issued today, the New Zealand Court of Appeal has upheld a High Court decision (Jiao v Refugee Status Appeals Authority [2002] NZAR 845 (Potter J)) that a refugee claimant has the responsibility to establish the claim to refugee status.  The Court of Appeal has also made observations about the application of the benefit of the doubt principle.  It has stated that the phrase should not get in the way of the proper consideration of the evidence bearing on disputed facts, including a weighing of the possible availability of other evidence supporting or questioning that given by the claimant.

[Jiao v Refugee Status Appeals Authority (CA167/02, 31 July 2003, Keith, Tipping & Glazebrook JJ)]

15 July 2003 Yesterday a forty-three year old Australian man appeared in the Manukau District Court charged with wilfully assisting a person to arrive in New Zealand without a visa.  The charge, laid under the Immigration Amendment Act 2002, followed discovery that a second person was found to be travelling on a fake passport.  Counsel for the man charged is reported as saying that the man had not been well off financially and had learnt a lesson from the charge. Judge Heather Simpson, in remanding the man on bail until 14 August 2003, is reported as saying that the case "struck at the whole root of the passport system".

["Man charged under people-smuggling law", NZ Herald, Tuesday, July 15, 2003]

2 July 2003 The Border Security Bill has been given its first reading in Parliament and referred to the Government Administration Select Committee for further consideration.

[Hon Rick Barker, "Border Security Bill passes first reading stage", Media Statement, Wednesday, 2 July 2003]

1 July 2003 The new immigration fees announced by the Minister of Immigration on 29 May 2003 come into force on 1 July 2003.  See the Immigration Amendment Regulations (No. 2) 2003 (SR2003/119), Reg 2.  The new fees are to be found in the Schedule to the Regulations.  These regulations amend the Immigration Regulations 1999 in three main respects.  First, the fees payable in respect of applications, appeals and other matters specified in Part 1 of Schedule 3 of the principal regulations are amended.  Most fees are increased, but some are reduced.  The separate fee banding for matters dealt with in London or the Hague is removed.  Second, the separate settlement information fee will no longer be payable on the issue or grant of a residence visa or residence permit by persons who apply for their visa or permit on or after 1 July 2003.  In effect, this fee is now subsumed in the new application fees.  Third, citizens of Samoa and persons applying under the Government Residence Policy for Victims of Domestic Violence are entitled to a NZ$90 fee reduction on applications for residence.  Finally, citizens of Pacific Island countries transiting through Auckland on their way to or from the Pacific Islands are exempted from the transit visa fee.

[Immigration Amendment Regulations (No. 2) 2003 (SR2003/119)]

25 June 2003 The Federal Minister of Immigration has announced that the government will appeal against a Family Court of Australia ruling that holding children indefinitely in immigration detention is illegal.

[AAP, "Ruddock to appeal ruling on children", NZ Herald, Wednesday, June 25, 2003, p B4]

24 June 2003 The Lawyers and Conveyancers Bill introduced to Parliament today will permit contingency fee arrangements in many cases.  But in Family Court, criminal and immigration cases a lawyer and client will not be able to agree to payment of the lawyer's fee being conditional on the success of the client's case.

[Hon Phil Goff, "Bill will enhance legal services market", Media Statement, Tuesday, 24 June 2003]

20 June 2003 This year's World Refugee Day focuses on refugee youth, putting the spotlight on their needs, their potential and their drive to create a better future for themselves and their communities.  The UNHCR will provide local NGOs and community organisations with information and support for their locally organised celebrations.  The refugee agency will also collaborate with the government and the NGO, Refugee and Migrant Services, to celebrate World Refugee Day with an event at Parliament House.  To find out more about World Refugee Day visit the UNHCR website at

19 June 2003 A full bench of the Family Court of Australia has ruled that the court has jurisdiction over children held in detention camps, and in a separate ruling said it was illegal for the government to hold children if their detention was for an indefinite period.  The decision - made in favour of two brothers aged 14 and 12, and their three sisters aged 11, 9 and 6 - overturned an earlier ruling by a single judge who said the courts had no jurisdiction over children in the camps. The decision possibly opens the way for more than 100 children to be released from the camps.  But the Minister of Immigration, Philip Ruddock, has criticised the decision and said the government was considering an appeal.  He is reported as saying that Australia had been successful is stopping people smugglers bringing refugees to the country and the decision of the court may encourage smugglers to believe the border protection system was weakening.  A recent study found that the average time children spent in detention was two years and four months, but many have been held for more than three years.

[Associated Press, "Court rules that locking children in refugee detention camps is illegal", 19 June 2003,]

18 June 2003 The Border Security Bill was today introduced to Parliament and is said to be part of a whole-of-government approach towards strengthening New Zealand's national security.  It will sit alongside the Counter-Terrorism Bill, already before Parliament, and the Maritime Security Bill which is also due for introduction this year.  Significantly, the Border Security Bill will give Customs officers the power to detain (but not arrest) people and allow the Immigration Service to stop people boarding aircraft.  While Customs officers will not have powers of arrest, a person could be held for questioning for up to twelve hours.  The Immigration Service powers will be strengthened to help target people who might pose a security risk.  The Chief Executive of the Immigration Service will be able to direct that a person not be allowed to board a carrier on the basis of electronic data.  The passports and visas of both crew and passengers will be checked.  As well as affecting airlines, the new electronic checking will affect other international passengers such as those on cruise ships. The Border Security Bill will also enhance the ability of Customs to collect and analyse electronic information direct from the source in relation to goods and people travelling into and out of New Zealand.  It provides the legislative framework for Customs' Secure Export Partnership Scheme to secure goods from the point of loading to export.  The measures in the Bill are designed to ensure that all of New Zealand export ports are able to meet the requirements of the United States and other countries.  This will avoid the disruption of shipping from New Zealand sea ports.  The Minister of Customs, Hon Rick Barker says that the Bill will enhance the powers of New Zealand Customs Service staff in several key areas, particularly controls around people, their cash and their tainted property when crossing New Zealand's border illegally and undeclared.  It will help to reduce New Zealand's exposure to risk from transnational crime and terrorism while at the same time maintaining the high flows of trade and travel vital to the New Zealand economy.

[Hon Rick Barker, "Border security Bill introduced", Media Statement, Wednesday, 18 June 2003; Helen Tunnah, "Customs given power to detain", NZ Herald, Thursday, June 19, 2003, p A3]   

17 June 2003 New Zealand has become the 100th member country of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) after the IOM approved New Zealand's application last week in Geneva.  The IOM, established in 1951, has a key role as an international agency managing global migration.  It undertakes many services of behalf of countries in relation to migrants and refugees, including travel arrangements, resettlement and integration advice, and health screening. Reducing irregular migration, particularly people-smuggling and trafficking, has been a key focus in recent years.  The IOM has focussed on prevention, assisting the voluntary return of irregular migrants, and providing protection and consular assistance to migrants.  It also has a major role providing humanitarian assistance in emergency situations. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Phil Goff, says that membership of the IOM reinforces New Zealand's efforts to protect the international asylum system and to combat illegal migration and people-smuggling.  New Zealand and the IOM worked closely together to support the Bali process, which has focused on the strengthening regional cooperation against people-smuggling and people trafficking.  Membership consolidates New Zealand's longstanding relationship with the IOM which has assisted New Zealand in resettling refugees under its quota programme, including the transfer of Tampa refugees to New Zealand in September 2001 and refugee intakes from Manus Island and Nauru.  The IOM also arranges medical screening of refugees and conducts document verification on behalf of New Zealand in several countries where New Zealand is not represented.  The Minister of Immigration, Hon Lianne Dalziel, says that membership will equip New Zealand for an active role in shaping the future direction of the efforts of the IOM in general migration issues and developing constructive responses to problems arising from irregular migration.

The IOM website is to be found at

[Hon Lianne Dalziel, "NZ becomes 100th member of IOM", Media Statement, Tuesday, 17 June 2003]

29 May 2003 The Minister of Immigration, Hon Lianne Dalziel, has announced that a new set of immigration fees is being established following the first general review of fees since 1999.  The new fees structure will take effect from 1 July 2003 and will be reviewed annually to ensure close alignment between actual costs and fees.  Approximately 70% of New Zealand Immigration Service funding comes from application fees and levies, set on a cost recovery basis.

[Hon Lianne Dalziel, "New immigration fees", Media Statement, Thursday, 29 May 2003]

29 May 2003 A man who claims to be from Afghanistan and who has been refused refugee status has been sentenced to five months imprisonment after threatening to kill an immigration officer who was interviewing him as to his true identity.  It is reported that during the sentencing before Judge Nicola Mathers in the District Court at Auckland the New Zealand Immigration Service said it had just heard from the Afghan authorities that personal identification supplied by the man was false.  He had been ordered last month to provide information to confirm his nationality.  The officer who was threatened had questioned the man in prison in March about whether he was actually from Pakistan.  A spokesperson for the Immigration Service is reported as saying that while the man was serving his time, officials would continue trying to confirm his true identity and if they did not find out who he was to their satisfaction, the Service would have to look at further custodial options.

["Migrant jailed for death threat", NZ Herald, Thursday, May 29, 2003, p A11]

15 May 2003 In Budget 2003 NZ$19.82 million spread over four years has been allocated to strengthen present immigration intelligence capability, to provide more resources for the investigation and prosecution of immigration fraud, to increase the  number of removals of failed refugee status claimants and to ensure that any detention of asylum-seekers, where identity is in doubt, is humane and effective.  

[Hon Lianne Dalziel, "Security boosted to manage immigration impact", Media Statement, Thursday, 15 May 2003]

14 May 2003 The Justice Ministry of South Korea has decided to grant three Africans refugee status, bringing to nine the total number of foreigners receiving permanent residence status as refugees since 2001 when an Ethiopian was given the status for the first time.  The three Africans come from Eritrea and Rwanda.

[BBC Monitoring, "South Korea grants rare refugee status to African asylum-seekers"]

12 May 2003 The government has announced that NZ$6.986 million has been allocated to fund a strategy for improving opportunities for non-English speaking New Zealanders to gain English language skills.  Census figures show that approximately 50,000 adults living in New Zealand do not speak English and another 200,000 adults from non-English speaking backgrounds have less than adequate levels of English language and literacy.  The initiatives, funded for four years, will be rolled out from 1 July 2003.  

[Hon Lianne Dalziel, "Ministers launch Adult ESOL Strategy", Media Statement, Monday 12 May 2003] 

2 May 2003 As part of  a series of conferences between thirty nations dealing with people-smuggling and cross-border crime, New Zealand, Australia and Japan are developing a scheme to facilitate the detection of stolen and forged passports.  At present details of missing passports are usually sent between the different foreign affairs departments by a third-party note, a process that can take weeks or months.  Stolen New Zealand passports can be used "half a dozen times" during this period, according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Phil Goff.  The proposed system will allow details of stolen passports and travel documents to be sent between countries quickly by computer, cutting the time for alerting authorities from weeks to hours.  In New Zealand, the plan will require a law change to the Passports Act 1992. The Privacy Commissioner, Bruce Slane, is reported as saying he could see no problems.  The Department of Internal Affairs acting general manager of Identity Services is reported as saying that passport details were already shared "in real time" with Australia and the Department was interested in getting a global system going.

[Scott MacLeod, "NZ plans law switch on stolen passports", NZ Herald, Friday, May 2, 2003, p A4]

1 May 2003 Speaking at a people smuggling conference in Jakarta, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, is reported as saying that the UNHCR together with the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) had been a successful partner of Indonesia and Australia in addressing mixed flows of people of which only a limited number are really refugees.  In his evaluation of the current condition of refugees and illegal migrants around the world, Mr Lubbers noted that people-smugglers, traffickers and organised networks involved in transnational crime syndicates profit from the lack of solutions for victims of violence and discrimination.  To be effective in fighting crime, increasing border control and attacking criminal networks will not suffice.  One needs to reduce "the lifeline" of crime.  It was necessary therefore not only to live up to the spirit of the 1951 Convention, but also to engage in comprehensive solutions, solutions for refugees and burden sharing is not only a humanitarian and political challenge, it is also about fighting crime.  The Foreign Minister for Indonesia, Hassan Wirayuda, is reported as saying that with the help of the UNHCR and the international organisation of migration Indonesia had successfully reduced the number of asylum-seekers from 3,872 people in 1999 to less than 500 in 2002.

[Rita A Widiadana, "UNHCR, IOM pledge to help Indonesia deal with illegal migrants", Jakarta Post, Thursday, May 1, 2003 accessed at]

1 May 2003 It is reported that at a regional conference on people-smuggling, being held in Bali, the Indonesian foreign minister, Hassan Wirajuda, said that it was against government policy to help people reach Australian waters and indicated there would be a law change to outlaw people-smuggling.  He also said that Indonesia was likely to call in the International Organisation for Migration to deal with intercepted boats.  The favoured option was to send the asylum-seekers home.  The New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon Phil Goff, is reported as saying that these comments were good news.  However, there was a problem given the size and nature of Indonesia.  The difficulty is that what is said at central government level does not always translate to local government level.  The refuelling and reprovisioning of the boats that has occurred has been by local governments.  Mr Goff said that New Zealand wanted the boats stopped in transit countries and the people on board processed by an international group.  Genuine asylum-seekers should be resettled and those who were not should be sent home.  New Zealand would continue to fill its quota of 750 refugees a year.

[Scott MacLeod, "Indonesia vows to stop boatpeople", NZ Herald, Thursday, May 1, 2003, p A3] 

30 April 2003 Australia and Indonesia, co-hosts of a two day conference on combatting people-smuggling, have declared the meeting a success.  Some twenty-eight ministers from thirty-two countries, representatives from fourteen observer nations and officials from fifteen international agencies met in the resort island of Bali, following up the first such meeting which took place in February 2002.  In a joint statement Ministers called for economic aid for source countries to reduce illegal migration pressures.  They also said that consideration should be given to improving opportunities for legal migration, including access to the international labour market.  The Australian Minister of Immigration is reported as saying that there had been no substantial boat arrivals in Australia for eighteen months.  The Ministers agreed to meet again in two to three years to ensure that progress is maintained.

[Agence France Presse, "Co-hosts declare success as regional people-smuggling conference ends", 30 April 2003 accessed at]

30 April 2003 A year long NZ$1m pilot of a telephone interpreting service supporting six government agencies delivering services to people from non-English speaking backgrounds is to begin this week.  The service, named Language Line, will enable the Police, the Accident Compensation Corporation, the Department of Internal Affairs, Housing New Zealand, Work and Income and the Immigration Service to access interpreters speaking 30 different languages when talking to ethnic people.  In launching the initiative the Minister of Ethnic Affairs, Hon Chris Carter, said that about 50,000 people in New Zealand speak no English and at least another 250,000 have only limited English.  If we want new ethnic New Zealanders to settle swiftly and effectively into our society, it makes good sense to provide a cost-effective and practical service that can overcome language barriers.  Access to an interpreter through Language Line during the pilot phase will be initiated by the government agencies when they decide a caller needs it.  It will be free to the caller and available for use by the agencies between 10am and 6pm.  Languages provided through Language Line are expected to include Maori, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Arabic, Hindi, Somali, Amharic, Assyrian, Farsi, Dari, Pashto, Kurdish, Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Punjabi, Gujarati, Bengali, Urdu, Tamil, Sinhalese, Cambodian, Japanese, Thai, Lao, Myanmar, Nuiean, Tokelauan, Tuvaluan, Cook Island Maori, Samoan and Tongan.

[Hon Chris Carter, "Language LIne telephone interpreting service pilot begins", Media Statement, Wednesday, 30 April 2003]

20 April 2003 In 2001 only twenty-six refugees were recognised by Japan and in statistics for 2002 released last month that figure dropped to just fourteen people from two hundred and fifty applicants, an acceptance rate of only 5.6%.  The Japanese Justice Ministry cites the low application rate for the comparatively meagre number of refugees accepted each year.  It also says the figures are deceptively small because Japan also grants amnesty on a humanitarian basis to dozens of others who do not qualify for refugee status under the Refugee Convention.  However, the UNHCR is reported as saying that the low acceptance rate is partly of Japan's own making, because its reputation as an unwelcoming destination discourages asylum-seekers from the start.  A spokeswoman for the UNHCR in Tokyo is reported as saying that the burden of proof is too high compared with other countries and many fear the risk of deportation is too high.  Those declined refugee status get only a half page letter from the Justice Ministry.  The Government of Prime Minister Koizumi is trying to make it easier to apply for asylum by extending the period to apply for asylum from 60 days from arrival to six months after arrival.  Other changes aim to halt deportation of asylum-seekers who enter the country illegally without a visa.  In April 2003 the Government would also begin paying for cultural adaptation classes.  The Japan Association for Refugees dismisses the reforms as superficial, in part because they fail to provide monetary assistance for destitute refugees and do little to provide better counselling on the application procedure at entry points like airports, where Japanese officials are sometimes unprepared to process applications.  The changes also do not address complaints that asylum judgments are arbitrary.  Earlier in April 2003 the Toyko District Court, in an unprecedented ruling, ordered the Government to pay 9.5 million yen for failing to sufficiently investigate the case of a Burmese asylum-seeker detained for nearly a year.  This is the first time a court has ordered the Government to pay compensation over recognition of refugee status.  The judge ruled that the Justice Ministry had neglected to perform its legal duty of assessing the man's claims carefully and fairly and was therefore at fault.  The man, whose name was withhold, entered Japan in March 1998 from Burma where he had participated in pro-democracy movements.  He immediately applied for refugee status, but the Justice Ministry failed to grant it and he was detained the same month at a Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau Facility.  In January 1999 he filed a suit against the Government to end his detention.  He was granted "temporary release" two months later and in March 2002 was granted refugee status.

[Asahi Shimbun, "State ordered to indemnify refugee", 10 April 2003; Nihon Kezai Shimbun, "Insular Japan grapples with opening door to refugees", 20 April 2003 accessed at]

16 April 2003 In a judgment issued today, the New Zealand Court of Appeal has upheld a High Court decision that the New Zealand Immigration Service has the power to detain refugee status claimants on their arrival in New Zealand.  But in two respects the Court of Appeal differed from the High Court and allowed an appeal by the Attorney-General against the judgment of the High Court.  First, it held that the refugee whose individual circumstances were placed before the Court in the appeal was not unlawfully detained.  Secondly, the Court of Appeal found lawful an Operational Instruction issued by the Immigration Service to officers in the field shortly after the events of September 11, 2001, and which was in effect for several months thereafter.  The Minister of Immigration, Hon Lianne Dalziel, is reported as saying that the decision upholds the right of the Immigration Service to operate a detention policy at the border and that she has always argued that a country has the right to make its own decisions about who can enter.  She was not prepared to let anyone in if the Immigration Service did not know who they were, where they came from or why they were in New Zealand.  A spokesman for the Human Rights Foundation is reported as saying that the decision was a blow to New Zealand's credibility as a country that upheld individual rights.

[Attorney-General v Refugee Council of New Zealand Inc & The Human Rights Foundation of Aotearoa New Zealand Incorporated (CA107/02, 16 April 2003, Blanchard, Tipping, McGrath, Anderson & Glazebrook JJ); Court of Appeal, "Refugee Case", Media Release, Wednesday, 16 April 2003; Helen Tunnah, "Top court clears refugee detention", NZ Herald, Thursday, April 17, 2003, front page]

11 April 2003 A jury in the High Court at Auckland has found a Somali refugee not guilty by reason of insanity of the murder in July 2002 of an elderly cleaner at a mosque in Mt Roskill.

["Mosque killer was insane, says jury", NZ Herald, Friday, April 11, 2003]

10 April 2003 A man charged with threatening to kill an immigration officer has been remanded in custody for a further week by the Manukau District Court.  At an appearance a week earlier his warrant of commitment under the Immigration Act 1987 had been extended by Judge Kerr.  Claiming to have fought for the Taleban, he has been refused refugee status.  It is reported that his identity and nationality have not been established.  Yesterday Judge Treston ordered that the man give information to the Immigration Service to confirm his identity and also required him to provide information to prove his right of entry to another country.  It is reported that the Immigration Service says that the man entered the country illegally.

["Illegal alien returned to custody", NZ Herald, Thursday, 10 April 2003, p A11]

7 April 2003 A Pakistani national has been sentenced to eight months imprisonment after being charged with three offences of using his refugee status to obtain a benefit and giving false information to a refugee status officer.  The man arrived in New Zealand in September 1996 and applied for residence after marrying a New Zealand resident in February 1997.  The New Zealand Immigration Service was not satisfied that the marriage was genuine and declined his application.  In May 1999 he applied for refugee status under a new name, claiming to be from Indian Kashmir.  He also married another woman while still married to the first.  His second wife has been convicted of giving false information to an immigration officer by providing a letter supporting her husband's refugee claim.  She was sentenced to 120 hours community work.

[NZPA, "Immigration scam draws prison term", NZ Herald, Monday, April 7, 2003]

5 April 2003 It is reported that a security risk certificate under Part IVA of the Immigration Act 1987 has been issued in relation to an Algerian man detained in the Paremoremo maximum-security prison since his arrival in New Zealand in December 2002 on false South African travel documents.  It is understood that this is the first time such a certificate has been issued.  When the Weekend Herald asked the Minister of Immigration, Hon Lianne Dalziel, whether the new certificate would override any decision of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority, a spokeswoman is reported as saying that the Minister had taken legal advice and could not answer.

[Catherine Masters, "Algerian facing secret charges", NZ Herald, Saturday, April 5, 2003, p A5]

4 April 2003 Two men appeared in the Manukau District Court yesterday for the hearing of an application by the New Zealand Immigration Service that their warrants of commitment under the Immigration Act 1987 be extended.  Both men had been refused refugee status and both have married New Zealanders.  One claims he was forced to fight for the Taleban and the other says his father was murdered by the Taleban.  Judge Kerr extended both warrants of commitment for a further seven days.

["Illegal migrants tell court of their Taleban fears", NZ Herald, Friday, April 4, 2003, p A3]

1 April 2003 The Minister of Justice has introduced to Parliament the Counter Terrorism Bill which complements the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 enacted in October 2002 and enables New Zealand to ratify the final two of twelve UN conventions on terrorism.

[Hon Phil Goff, "Counter Terrorism Bill creates new powers, offences", Media Statement, Tuesday, 1 April 2003]

21 March 2003 The Auckland Regional Migrant Resource Centre has opened at Three Kings Plaza, 532 Mt Albert Road, Auckland.

20 March 2003 In Sepet v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2003] UK HL 15 (20 March 2003) Lords Bingham, Steyn, Hoffmann, Hutton & Rodger have dismissed an appeal by two Turkish nationals of Kurdish origin who claimed that they should be granted asylum because of their liability, if returned to Turkey, to perform compulsory military service on pain of imprisonment if they refused.  In the leading decision, Lord Bingham of Cornhill agreed with the conclusion reached in the Court of Appeal by Laws and Jonathan Parker LJJ that there was no presently extant legal rule or principle which guarantees a right of absolute conscientious objection, such that where it is not respected, a good case to refugee status under the Refugee Convention may arise.  Lord Bingham also addressed the issue of causation, favouring the more objective approach adopted in Chen Shi Hai v Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (2000) 201 CLR 293, 304, 313, paras 33 and 65 and in Refugee Appeal No. 72635/01 (6 September 2002) at paras 167-173.  On the same day the House of Lords also gave judgment in R v Secretary of State for the Home Department; Ex parte Sivakumar [2003] UK HL 14 (Lords Bingham, Steyn, Hoffmann, Hutton & Rodger).  Their Lordships ordered the Immigration Appeal Tribunal to reconsider a case in which a Sri Lankan Tamil had been denied refugee status notwithstanding that he had been subjected to torture of a sadistic nature on the mistaken suspicion that he was a sympathiser of the LTTE.  It had been said at first instance that the torture was not the result of any political opinion held by the man, but because he was suspected, however unjustly, of involvement in violent terrorism.  The House of Lords unanimously agreed that this decision was based on too narrow a ground and that excessive or arbitrary punishment may tip the scales in favour of a conclusion that there was persecution meriting protection under the Refugee Convention.  If agents of the state inflict brutal torture on persons suspected, fairly or unfairly, of involvement in terrorism, the protection of the Convention may be engaged.  The case must be considered globally and the evaluation of material facts must not be compartmentalised.  It is also necessary to consider the cumulative effect of the relevant factors.  In short, each claim to refugee status must depend on the evidence but in the present case the decline of refugee status was wrong in law as the decision-maker had given no weight or virtually no weight to the predominant feature of the case, namely the repeated infliction of barbarous acts of torture.

[Both judgments may be accessed at]

10 March 2003 The Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand have announced that they will promote a South Pacific anti-terrorism unit to help protect small states with limited resources.  The South Pacific Forum in Auckland in August 2003 will look at how a "regional capability" could be established.  It has been indicated that police anti-terrorism training would be an obvious first step and a regional institution could be established later.  The South Pacific move is seen as a useful demonstration of common ground in the fight against terrorism.

[Vernon Small, "PMs plan Pacific anti-terror unit", NZ Herald, Monday, March 10, 2003, front page]

1 March 2003 It has reported that stolen and forged New Zealand passports are fetching about NZ$60,000 on an international black market for criminals eager to assume new identities.  About 12,000 passports are lost or stolen each year.  The Department of Internal Affairs is reported as saying that it is aware of cases where passports have been used illegally overseas, but says it does not consider the number disappearing particularly high.  But a senior police source in Wellington is said to have told the Weekend Herald that passports were a sought-after document in the criminal underworld.  An Auckland police source is reported as saying that the passports are being used to travel around Asia and that many New Zealand false passports are being picked up by Australian border authorities.  Figures for the past three years reportedly show more than 8,000 passports a year were reported missing and another 3,500 reported stolen.  More than 300,000 passports are issued each year.

[Eugene Bingham & John Andrews, "Passports prized on black market", NZ Herald, Saturday, March 1, 2003, p A2]

1 March 2003 The Algerian man who has been unsuccessful in obtaining refugee status and who has appealed to the Refugee Status Appeals Authority has been remanded in custody for a further seven days.

["Terror suspect staying in jail", NZ Herald, Saturday, March 1, 2003, p A10]

27 February 2003 The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon Phil Goff, has announced that New Zealand is providing a legal drafter to assist preparation of model counter-terrorism legislation for Pacific Islands Forum countries.  A working group of Forum members and regional law enforcement agencies are meeting in Fiji this week to develop a framework to address terrorism and trans-national crime in the Pacific.  Mr Goff says that Pacific Island countries have to pass counter-terrorism legislation to meet their obligations under United Nations Resolution 1373 but many are having difficulty developing that legislation.  By helping them to draw up model legislation, New Zealand was helping them meet their international obligations and by assisting its neighbours to fight trans-national crime and terrorism New Zealand was enhancing its own domestic security measures as well.  The more robust that border control, law enforcement and regulatory regimes are throughout the Pacific, the less likely it is that terrorist or criminal activities in the region will flow over into New Zealand.

[Hon Phil Goff, "NZ expertise to help draft PI counter-terrorism legislation", Media Statement, 27 February 2003]

19 February 2003 In the High Court at Auckland Venning J has dismissed an application for interim relief sought by an Afghan national whose refugee application had been declined by both the Refugee Status Branch of the New Zealand Immigration Service and by the Refugee Status Appeals Authority (RSAA).  The refugee status officer at first instance had accepted the plaintiff's account (albeit only by affording him the benefit of the doubt) and considered that the fear of being persecuted was well-founded.  However the refugee claim failed as the officer found that there was no nexus between the well-founded fear of being persecuted and one or more of the Convention grounds.  On appeal the RSAA rejected the plaintiff's claim in its entirety on credibility grounds.  Before the High Court it was submitted for the plaintiff that the RSAA was wrong in law in conducting a de novo hearing and that in the circumstances, the credibility of the plaintiff having been accepted at first instance, the only issue which the RSAA could consider was the issue of nexus.  By adopting a de novo process to the appeal the RSAA had opened the door to the making of an adverse credibility finding and that such a process was unfair.  In his reserved judgment Venning J rejected the submissions for the plaintiff, holding that the statutory scheme makes it clear that the RSAA is not bound by credibility findings made by the refugee status officer.  In his view there was no arguable case on the point and the application for interim order was dismissed.  The judgment also records that the plaintiff absconded from the Mangere Accommodation Centre after instituting the judicial review proceedings but prior to the hearing of his application under section 8 of the Judicature Amendment Act 1972.  Counsel for the Crown submitted that in the exercise of the Court's discretion, the Court ought not to grant relief to an applicant who had absconded from custody.  Venning J accepted that in the exercise of the Court's discretion the fact that an applicant has absconded from lawful custody is a relevant factor but that aspect, on its own, is not determinative.  In the event the application was otherwise meritorious the plaintiff's absconding from custody could be met by relief being granted on appropriate conditions and for a limited time including a requirement for him to surrender himself to the authorities, failing which the interim relief would lapse.

[M v Attorney-General (High Court Auckland CP 545/02, 19 February 2003, Venning J)]

19 February 2003 The Minister of Immigration, Hon Lianne Dalziel, has announced further special provisions for Zimbabwe nationals in New Zealand, as of 21 February 2003, on a temporary permit.  Due to the situation in Zimbabwe last year, work permit requirements were relaxed for Zimbabwean nationals who were in New Zealand as at 30 April 2002, who did not want to return to Zimbabwe and who had a job offer in New Zealand.  Today's announcement means all Zimbabweans in New Zealand on temporary permits will now be able to apply for a twelve-month open work permit, regardless of whether or not they have a specific job offer.  The Minister has also announced that the visitor's visa waiver for nationals of Zimbabwe has been suspended for twelve months as of 21 February 2003.  From that date all nationals of Zimbabwe intending to visit New Zealand will need to obtain a visa in order to travel.  Zimbabwean nationals continue, however, to be eligible for temporary entry or residence under standard policies.

[Hon Lianne Dalziel, "Visa-free entry for Zimbabweans to be suspended", Media Statement, 19 February 2003]

4 February 2003 The issue before the High Court of Australia in Plaintiff S157/2002 v Commonwealth of Australia [2003] HCA 2 (4 February 2003) (Gleeson CJ, Gaudron, McHugh, Gummow, Kirby, Hayne & Callinan JJ) was whether the privative provisions of ss 474 and 486A of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) prevented the plaintiff from challenging a decision of the Refugee Review Tribunal where that decision was made unfairly and in contravention of the requirements of natural justice.  The Court has held that the privative provisions do not apply to constitutional writs and that neither s 474 nor s 486A, upon their proper construction, bar or limit the exercise of the jurisdiction of the High Court in relation to such writs.  In a second decision delivered on the same day the High Court of Australia rejected a challenge by a mother and children who had argued that they were entitled to refugee status on the principle of family unity: Re Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs; Ex parte Applicants S134/2002 [2003] HCA 1 (4 February 2003).

2 February 2003 A Pakistani man who arrived at Christchurch International Airport on Friday with a false South African passport appeared yesterday in the District Court at Christchurch on a false passport charge.  He has been remanded in custody without plea.

["Who is he?", Sunday Star-Times, February 2, 2003, p A2]

1 February 2003 An Algerian man who has claimed refugee status in New Zealand has had his application declined by the Refugee Status Branch of the Immigration Service.  He has reportedly appealed to the Refugee Status Appeals Authority.

["Algerian to appeal", Weekend Herald, February 1, 2003, p A3]

24 January 2003 The Refugee Status Appeals Authority has advised that it is seeking new members.  People with relevant experience and skills are invited to submit an application for appointment, either on a full-time or substantial part-time basis.  Interest in and familiarity with the Refugee Convention and international refugee law is highly advantageous, as is knowledge of relevant human rights conventions and litigation skills.  Candidates must be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident and be a barrister or solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand.  In addition, each candidate must have held a practising certificate for at least five years, or have other equivalent or appropriate experience (whether in New Zealand or overseas).  Appointments are made by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Minister of Immigration.  Full-time members must be based in Auckland.  Currently terms and conditions are governed by the Fees and Travelling Allowances Act 1951.  Job descriptions and further information may be obtained from Cheryl Austin (telephone 04 915 6336 or email,  Applications must be sent to Cheryl Austin, Appeal Authorities Secretariat, PO Box 4130, Wellington, by COB, Monday 17 February 2003.  Late applications will not normally be accepted.

[LawNews Issue No. 02, January 24, 2003, p 10]

18 January 2003 An Algerian man who has claimed refugee status in New Zealand and who has been detained in custody pending a decision on his claim has unsuccessfully opposed an application by Television New Zealand to film him in court.  In the District Court at Manukau District Judge Tompkins ruled that as the man's photograph had already been published in the New Zealand Herald and as other details surrounding his arrival were similarly a matter of public record, filming rights would be granted.  A decision on the man's application for refugee status is expected next month.  His lawyer reportedly told the Court that the man feels that it is regrettable that he could not arrive in New Zealand as a guest of Parliament.

[Angela Gregory, "[...] tells court he wanted a parliamentary welcome", Weekend Herald, January 18, 2003, p A5]

18 January 2003 One hundred and fifty men, women and children arrived in Auckland yesterday after being detained for more than a year in either Nauru or Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.  New Zealand accepted the group after they were determined by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to be refugees.  They are part of New Zealand's annual quota intake of 750 refugees and will be housed initially at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre in South Auckland.  A New Zealand Immigration Service official is reported as saying that sixty-six of the refugees had come from Nauru and eighty-four from Manus Island.  Some had been rescued from the MV Tampa.  The executive director of the Refugee Migrant Service is reported as saying that Afghan and Iraqi refugees had generally settled well.  Many had obtained jobs, relieving labour shortages in small towns, and the children appeared to be coping with school.  The biggest challenge was dealing with the single men who had no family support here and were preoccupied with the fate of their relatives.  Most of the refugees still needed to improve their English to get better jobs.  According to the New Zealand Herald the new arrivals bring New Zealand's total from Nauru, Papua New Guinea and the Tampa to 399.

[Natasha Harris & Angela Gregory, "Flight from hardship to freedom", Weekend Herald, January 18, 2003, p A5]

13 January 2003 Concern has been reported at the cost of treating refugees with HIV who want to have babies in New Zealand.  A business plan drawn up for the Auckland District Health Board estimates that 40 percent of the 116 migrant women with HIV in its area would want children in the next five years.  There were also increasing numbers of Asian, African and Middle-Eastern Muslim women in central Auckland who had been circumcised and would need specialist care during pregnancy.  The report did not detail the cost of the care.  In parliament last year, Ruth Dyson (speaking on behalf of Health Minister Annette King) acknowledged that there were concerns about the costs to the health system of caring for refugees.  She said the Ministry of Health, district health boards, Ms King and the Minister of Immigration, Hon Lianne Dalziel, were discussing those concerns.  Women with HIV have about a one-in-three chance of passing the virus to their babies during pregnancy or birth.  But with medical intervention that risk can be reduced to one in fifty.  Research shows that the number of women with HIV in New Zealand is rising, with the majority of migrants from high-risk countries.  National MP, Murray McCully, is reported as saying that there should be a full-scale review of refugee policy so people would understand in detail the true costs of accepting at least 750 people into the country every year.  National wants to cut the intake of resettlement refugees to 500.

[Francesca Mold, "Cost worry over HIV refugees", NZ Herald, Monday, January 13, 2003, p A6]

11 January 2003 An Algerian man who has claimed refugee status has been remanded in custody for a further seven days.

["[...] jail remand extended", Weekend Herald, Saturday, January 11, 2003, p A8]

9 January 2003 New Zealand is to accept a further 150 refugees rejected by Australia but recognised as refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  The mostly Iraqi and Afghan refugees have been held in detention centres on Manus Island, off the coast of Papua New Guinea, and Nauru for more than a year while their applications were processed.  The 66 arrivals from Nauru and 84 from Manus Island will be accepted as part of New Zealand's annual quota of 750 resettlement refugees.  So far, 1,575 asylum-seekers have been processed at three offshore facilities in the Pacific at a cost of AUD$121.6 million to the Australian government.  Refugee status has been granted to 745 of them.  By November 2002, Australia had accepted 312 of the refugees processed on the islands, New Zealand had taken 202 and Sweden 14.  National MP Murray McCully is reported as expressing concern that New Zealand's willingness to take refugees rejected by Australia would make New Zealand seem like a soft touch for illegal immigrants.  New Zealand's refugee policy needed to be reviewed urgently and National's policy was to reduce the annual resettlement intake to 500.

[Francesca Mold, "NZ accepts 150 more refugees", NZ Herald, Thursday, January 9, 2003, p A3]

6 January 2003 The Customs Service is testing computer-linked video cameras to film the faces of passengers arriving in New Zealand to help identify terrorists and other undesirable travellers.

[NZPA, "Scrutiny at airports", NZ Herald, Monday, January 6, 2003, p A3]

4 January 2003 An Algerian man who has claimed refugee status has been remanded in custody for seven more days.  His lawyer is reported as saying that a decision by the Refugee Status Branch of the Immigration Service on the refugee claim is expected about the middle of February 2003.

[Angela Gregory, "High security at [...] hearing", Weekend Herald, January 4, 2003, p A3]


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