19 December 2005 High Court at Auckland upholds RSAA decision
15 December 2005 Immigration Advisors Licencing Bill receives first reading
22 November 2005 Dr Guy S Goodwin-Gill, University of Oxford to speak in Sydney at conference on human rights and refugee law
16 November 2005 Bird flu may lead to closure of New Zealand borders
2 November 2005 Emergency powers to combat bird flu pandemic considered
19 October 2005 High Court at Auckland sets aside RSAA decision and orders rehearing
19 October 2005 New Minister of Immigration
18 October 2005 Iraqi refugee appeal unsuccessful
17 October 2005 New government formed
12 October 2005 Government agencies train to deal with mass arrival of illegal migrants by sea
11 October 2005 Deportation of Iraqi refugee remains under consideration
5 October 2005 Legal Services Agency seeking delivery model to address unmet legal needs of migrant and refugee communities in the Auckland region
5 October 2005 Minister of Immigration resigns
3 October 2005 Final election result
26 September 2005 2005 edition of RefWorld released by UNHCR
22 September 2005 UNHCR publishes Procedural Standards for Refugee Status Determination under UNHCR’s Mandate
17 September 2005 Election day
14 September 2005 UN and maritime experts draw up life-saving recommendations for those in peril on the sea
6 September 2005 UNHCR reports that asylum applications continue to tumble
10 August 2005 National Party proposes reducing refugee quota
4 July 2005 Special residence provisions for Zimbabwe nationals announced
20 June 2005 World Refugee Day
17 June 2005 Fall in refugee numbers but rise in others of concern in 2004
15 June 2005 New High Commissioner for Refugees assumes official duties
14 June 2005 Immigration Advisors Licencing Bill introduced
25 May 2005 Immigration review to include Refugee Status Appeals Authority
24 May 2005 New High Commissioner for Refugees nominated
24 May 2005 Immigration Act 1987 to be reviewed
22 May 2005 Government spending on border security to increase by an extra NZ$13.3 million over four years
20 May 2005 Asylum claims continue to decline in the first quarter of 2005
8 May 2005 Iranians largest group of asylum-seekers
28 April 2005 Domestic abuse of female refugees in New Zealand exposed
13 April 2005 Auckland law students set up the Equal Justice Project
9 April 2005 Tampa refugees become New Zealand citizens
12 March 2005 Deportation of Iraqi refugee under consideration
10 March 2005 House of Lords rules on past persecution and the proviso to Article 1C(5) of the Refugee Convention
2 March 2005 Asylum claims decline
21 February 2005 High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, resigns
4 February 2005 Government discloses number of unsuccessful refugee claimants still in New Zealand
26 January 2005 Licencing regime for immigration consultants to be introduced
19 December 2005 Sitting in the High Court at Auckland Keane J has dismissed an application for review by an Iraqi national, an Assyrian Christian, who has lived with his family in a small town in Northern Iraq, in which Kurds comprise the majority and Arabs the sizeable minority. The Refugee Status Appeals Authority accepted that Assyrian Christians in some parts of Iraq, notably Baghdad, were particularly at risk for Convention reasons. But the Authority did not consider that risk to Christians throughout Iraq to be general. It concluded that were the refugee claimant to return to Iraq he would not necessarily be at risk simply because of his ethnicity, his religion and his political affiliation. The risk to the individual, should he return to Northern Iraq, fell below the real chance threshold. The Judge found that the Authority had made no invalidating error of law and its decision was not unreasonable.
[S v Chief Executive of Department of Labour (High Court Auckland, CIV2005-404-003360, 19 December 2005, Keane J)]
15 December 2005 The Immigration Advisors Licencing Bill, which would require the mandatory licencing of all immigration advisers, has received its first reading in Parliament. Under the proposed legislation it would be an offence to provide immigration advice without a licence, unless exempt. Offenders could face a fine of up to NZ$100,000 or seven years imprisonment. People exempt from having to hold a licence will include lawyers, MPs and people providing informal advice, in, for example, a family context. The legislation will also include offshore advisers who would be able to opt-in to the licencing regime for the first three years, after which it would be mandatory. To obtain and hold a licence, advisers must meet competency standards and be "fit" to practise. This includes consideration of any previous convictions. Licences will be renewed annually. The legislation has been referred to the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee.
[Hon David Cunliffe, "Immigration Advisors Licencing Bill - First Reading", Media Statement, 15 December 2005]
22 November 2005 On Tuesday 22 November 2005 there will be a one day conference on human rights and refugee law in Sydney. The keynote speaker is Dr Guy S Goodwin-Gill, one of the world's leading scholars in international refugee law and currently Senior Research Fellow at All Souls at the University of Oxford. He was previously the Professor of International and Refugee Law at Oxford, the Professor of Asylum Law at the University of Amsterdam and worked for over a decade for the UNHCR. He is the author of The Refugee in International Law. The conference, "Moving On: Forced Migration and Human Rights", is being organised by the Sydney Centre for International and Global Law, Faculty of Law, University of Sydney. Registration forms and the conference programme are now available at <http://www.law.usyd.edu.au/scigl/Events.htm>. Topics include terrorism and asylum, separated children, trafficking and slavery, off-shore processing of asylum claims, judicial interpretations of the refugee definition and the confluence of international refugee and human rights law in expanding States protection obligations. The venue of the conference is the Theatrette of NSW Parliament House, Sydney.
16 November 2005 The Government has today released its plan for handling an influenza pandemic following the slowly growing number of deaths in Asia from the virulent H5N1 strain. The plan outlines the powers officials could exercise and the likely trigger points for enacting them. Border restrictions such as holding all incoming passengers and crew from affected countries while checking for flu cases could be implemented once small clusters of people were becoming infected overseas with a new sub-type of the flu virus. In addition, New Zealand would most likely close its borders to incoming travellers once large clusters of human-to-human transmission started happening overseas.
[Herald staff, "Closing borders an option in fight against Bird Flu", NZ Herald website www.nzherald.co.nz]
2 November 2005 In a paper to the Cabinet to be presented on Monday, a number of law changes will be presented. Details have not been disclosed but a Wellington seminar on managing the risks of a pandemic heard yesterday that the country's borders were likely to close if there was an outbreak of human-to-human bird flu abroad and could be triggered by Singapore or Australia shutting their borders. Thousands of travellers would likely to be in the air and headed to New Zealand, an estimated 6,000 to Auckland and another 1,500 to Christchurch. Those people would either be turned around, depending on the fuel levels of the aircraft, or potentially placed into quarantine on arrival. Another 240,000 travellers could be stranded in New Zealand. Officials admitted at the seminar that planning was still under way to work out how to manage these problems.
[Helen Tunnah, "Cabinet to look at bird flu powers", NZ Herald, Wednesday, November 2, 2005, p A6]
19 October 2005 Sitting in the High Court at Auckland Winkelmann J has set aside a decision of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority and ordered a rehearing because the Authority failed to address the ground upon which refugee status was claimed and because it failed to address the significance of the claimant's occupation to the claim. The Judge also found that the Authority's interpretation of country information provided by Amnesty International was unreasonable.
[A v Chief Executive of the Department of Labour (High Court Auckland, CIV2004-404-6314, 19 October 2005, Winkelmann J)]
19 October 2005 The new Minister of Immigration is David Cunliffe. The Associate Minister of Immigration is Clayton Cosgrove.
[Rt Hon Helen Clark, "Ministerial portfolios allocated", Media Statement, 19 October 2005]
18 October 2005 An Iraqi refugee jailed indefinitely for raping three women and attempting to rape a fourth has lost his appeal against his latest conviction and sentence.
[NZPA, "Iraqi refugee loses rape appeal", NZ Herald, Tuesday, 18 October 2005, p A7]
17 October 2005 The Prime Minister, Hon Helen Clark, has announced that Labour has finalised arrangements with the Progressive Party, New Zealand First, United Future and the Green Party to enable it to form a government with a majority on confidence and supply.
[Rt Hon Helen Clark, "Government arrangements announced", Media Statement, 17 October 2005]
12 October 2005 Customs, the Department of Labour, Police, Ministry of Health, the Auckland Regional Public Health Service and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry are among a range of government departments which today will test their ability to cope with a mass arrival of illegal migrants by sea. A fictional boat from a non-existent country is due to berth safely at Auckland for the day-long test. The exercise will test plans, the ability of both personnel and equipment to cope and assess legal powers for dealing with such events.
[Herald online staff, "Plans for dealing with mass illegal immigration tested", NZ Herald, 12 October 2005]
11 October 2005 A report into the immigration status of an Iraqi refugee convicted of raping three women in New Zealand will not be released until his appeal to the Court of Appeal has been determined. Yesterday the court reserved its decision on the man's appeal against his latest convictions and the sentence that he serve at least seven years of an open-ended jail term of preventative detention. The man came to New Zealand in 1994 as a quota refugee after being in the Iraqi army during the Gulf War. The New Zealand citizenship he was granted in 1997 was revoked last year and it is expected that he will be deported when his sentence ends.
[NZPA, "Immigration status of rapist not yet decided", NZ Herald, Tuesday, 11 October 2005]
5 October 2005 The Legal Services Agency is intending to enter into a contract with a person or organisation to compile a detailed service delivery model for addressing the unmet legal needs of migrant and refugee communities in the Auckland region. A full explanation of the scoping exercise and the intended terms of engagement is available from Bryan Fox, Services and Contracts Adviser, Legal Services Agency, PO Box 5333, Wellington (email: email@example.com.
5 October 2005 The Minister of Immigration, Hon Paul Swain, has resigned.
[Audrey Young, "Exits start of clean sweep for Clark", NZ Herald, Wednesday, October 5, 2005, front page]
3 October 2005 The final election results have been announced: Labour 50 seats, National 48, New Zealand First 7, Greens 6, Maori Party 4, United Future 3, Act 2 and Progressives 1. The Prime Minister, Rt Hon Helen Clark, will begin negotiations will other parties with a view to gathering sufficient support to lead a third-term Labour government.
[Audrey Young & Kevin Taylor, "PM aims to have new Govt stitched up in week", NZ Herald, Monday, October 3, 2005, p A5]
26 September 2005 The UNHCR has released the 2005 edition of RefWorld, a comprehensive collection of over 90,000 documents relating to refugees. This 14th edition of RefWorld released today consists of a set of six CD-Roms and will also be issued in DVD-format, making the information available on a single disk. A full subscription to RefWorld 2005 costs US$150 for Governments, international organisations, academic institutions, research institutes, libraries, bar associations, law schools and the judiciary. A reduced fee of US$75 applies to non-governmental organisations contributing to or involved in work with refugees, legal clinics, students, individuals and lawyers working on behalf of asylum-seekers and refugees. For further details and the subscription form refer to the UNHCR webpage at www.unhcr.ch.
[UNHCR, "UNHCR launches latest edition of "Refugee Encyclopedia" <http://www.unhcr.ch/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/news/opendoc.htm?tbl=NEWS&page=home&id=433821774>.
22 September 2005 The UNHCR carries out refugee status determination in approximately 80 countries. This month the UNHCR has published a 175 page document detailing the procedural standards to be observed by the UNHCR when making decisions on refugee status. Unfortunately, the new procedural standards do not require that reasons be given for declining a refugee claim. They only recommend that as a "best practice" any negative decision should include sufficient details to permit the applicant to know why evidence was rejected and why the accepted facts do not make the applicant eligible for refugee status. The new procedures have also been criticised by a watchdog NGO for not allowing asylum-seekers access to most of the evidence on their files and for containing no provision for setting up independent bodies to hear appeals.
[UNHCR, Procedural Standards for RSD under UNHCR’s Mandate, <http://www.unhcr.ch/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/publ/opendoc.pdf?tbl=PUBL&id=4317223c9>. The critique is to be found at <www.rsdwatch.org>.
17 September 2005 Election day.
14 September 2005 In the face of the rising death toll among migrants and refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean and other seas, the UNHCR has announced that maritime and refugee experts on 13 September 2005 agreed on a number of concrete recommendations aimed at upholding the integrity of the international maritime search and rescue regime, and safeguarding the humanitarian tradition of rescue at sea. The International Maritime Organisation has adopted amendments to the relevant international Conventions and Guidelines for the Treatment of Persons Rescued at Sea, that help to clarify the responsibilities of states in securing prompt disembarkation after a rescue has occurred. The Athens meeting highlighted the importance of harmonised procedures for the treatment of people who have been rescued at sea and noted that the effectiveness of law and guidelines will depend on the good faith and political will of states that are supposed to implement them.
[UNHCR, "UN and maritime experts draw up life-saving recommendations for those in peril on the sea" <http://www.unhcr.ch/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/news/opendoc.htm?tbl=NEWS&id=43283d744>
6 September 2005 According to a report released today by the UNHCR, the number of asylum applications in industrialised countries has continued to fall during the first half of 2005, maintaining the sharp downward trend that began in 2002. Overall, the number of asylum-seekers arriving in all thirty-six industrialised countries listed by the UNHCR fell by eighteen percent, compared to the same period last year (to 156,200 from 189,900), and by thirty-five percent compared to the same period in 2003, when 240,800 people claimed asylum. Last year's total was already the lowest for sixteen years, UNHCR said, making the latest drop in numbers even more significant. The Agency has repeatedly expressed concern that the fall in numbers may reflect the considerable difficulties some refugees encounter accessing asylum systems in Europe in the face of more and more restrictive legislation and tighter border controls. In Europe, France was the top receiving country with 27,400 applications during the first six months of 2005. The next largest receiving countries so far in 2005 are the United States with 25,400 asylum applications, down eight percent on the same period last year; then the United Kingdom, down twenty-three percent to 15,500; Germany, down twenty-nine percent to 13,300; Austria, down twenty-six percent to 9,200; Canada, down twenty-six percent to 8,700; and Sweden, down thirty percent to 8,000. During the six months period covered by the report, Europe received seventy-seven percent of all asylum applications, North America received twenty-two percent of the total inflow, while Australia and New Zealand accounted for the remaining one percent of the asylum requests. The statistics for New Zealand show that in the first two quarters of 2005 one hundred and seventy six asylum applications were received, a drop of fifty-one percent compared with the same period in 2004.
[UNHCR, "Asylum applications continue to tumble in industrialised countries" <http://www.unhcr.ch/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/news/opendoc.htm?tbl=NEWS&id=431db6ee4>
10 August 2005 The leader of the National Party, Don Brash, has announced that if National is elected to office at the forthcoming elections, it will reduce the number of refugees accepted for resettlement in New Zealand. Presently 750 refugees are accepted each year plus a further 300 people under the refugee family reunification quota. National would scrap the family reunification category and instead include immediate family members within the quota of 750. The immigration spokesman for the party, Tony Ryall, is reported as saying that statistics show that 90% of refugees were on benefits after one year and 80% were still on benefits after five years in New Zealand. The main reason was that many refugees had poor English. National would reallocate the money it saved by reducing the quota to improving refugees' English and helping them settle in New Zealand.
[Ainsley Thomson, "Refugees: National vows 'disciplined' policy", NZ Herald, Wednesday, August 10, 2005, p A4]
4 July 2005 Under a special policy, which starts today, Zimbabweans who entered New Zealand before 23 September 2004 can apply for permanent residence even if they do not meet the normal entry rules. The Minister of Immigration, Hon Paul Swain, is reported as saying that the policy had been devised last year and was a "one-off". The Government had decided that many of the Zimbabweans who had arrived in New Zealand would be unable to return to their home country, yet many did not meet permanent residence criteria. Many would have had a legitimate claim for refugee status and because of their high numbers could have clogged the system if they had all lodged their claims. He estimates about 450 Zimbabweans could gain residence under the policy. The Government had originally thought the policy may have netted 1,800. However, only 1,100 people responded and of those about 650 could gain residence through normal criteria. Zimbabwean nationals who arrived after 23 September 2004 would not be affected by the new policy. The Minister said that such persons still had the opportunity to stay as they could apply through the normal refugee process.
[NZPA, "Zimbabwe immigrant policy a "one-off", NZ Herald, Monday, 4 July 2005, <http://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?ObjectID=10334097>]
20 June 2005 World Refugee Day on 20 June 2005 is fast approaching and UNHCR has just launched a new page on its local website www.unhcr.org.au/wrd2005. The theme for World Refugee Day in 2005 is "courage", celebrating the courage of refugees not just in enduring the dangers and violence of the crises that made them refugees, but also the courage refugees show in rebuilding their lives and contributing to society in difficult or unfamiliar circumstances.
17 June 2005 The UNHCR has announced that while the global number of refugees fell 4 percent in 2004 to 9.2 million, the lowest total in almost a quarter of a century, the numbers of internally displaced and stateless people remain high. The total number of people of concern to the UNHCR rose to 19.2 million from 17 million the previous year. This latter figure includes refugees, asylum-seekers, returnees, stateless people and a portion of the world’s internally displaced people. An almost unprecedented level of voluntary repatriation was largely responsible for the decline in the global refugee number for a fourth year in succession. In all, more than 5 million refugees have been able to return to their home countries since the end of 2001 - 3.5 million of them to Afghanistan alone. Other major return movements were to Iraq, Angola, Burundi, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The growth in the number of people of concern was partly as a result of the additional responsibility to help protect 660,000 displaced people in Darfur and an increased government estimate of the number of displaced people in Colombia.
[UNHCR, “Fall in refugee numbers, but rise in others of concern in 2004, says UNCHR” <http://www.unhcr.ch/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/news/opendoc.htm?tbl=NEWS&id=42b191e82>]
15 June 2005 António Guterres, the former Portugese prime minister, today assumed official duties as the 10th United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He was nominated for the position on 24 May 2005 by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and formally elected three days later by the UN General Assembly to a five-year term. He succeeds former Dutch prime minister Ruud Lubbers who served from January 2001 until February 2005.
[“High Commissioner António Guterres starts work at UNHCR”, Wednesday 15 June 2005, <http://www.unhcr.ch/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/news/opendoc.htm?tbl=NEWS&id=42b0064d4>]
14 June 2005 The Government has introduced a Bill to regulate immigration advisers. The Immigration Advisors Licencing Bill will make it an offence to provide immigration advice without a licence. Offenders could face a fine of up to NZ$100,000 or seven years imprisonment or both. Licences will need to be renewed annually and details of licenced immigration advisers will be recorded and updated on a public register. Licences are expected to cost NZ$1,000 to NZ$2,000 a year. The Bill provides for the establishment of the Immigration Advisors Authority headed by a Registrar as a separate body within the Department of Labour. The legislation will also include offshore advisers who will be able to opt-in to the licencing regime for the first three years. After that it will be mandatory. The not-for-profit sector will be subject to regulation, but will not pay the full licencing fee. Exemptions will exist for certain persons such as lawyers or foreign diplomats, where sufficient processes are already in place to regulate conduct.
[Hon Paul Swain, "Bill to regulate immigration advisers introduced", Media Statement, 14 June 2005]
25 May 2005 It has been reported that the Government wants more control over immigration decisions on who can live in New Zealand and may even disband agencies such as the Refugee Status Appeals Authority.
[Ruth Berry, "Government signals migrant rules to get tougher", NZ Herald, Wednesday, 25 May 2005, front page]
24 May 2005 A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has announced in New York the nomination of former Portugese Prime Minister, António Guterres as the 10th High Commissioner for Refugees. Mr Guterres was Prime Minister of Portugal from 1996 to 2002. On behalf of the staff of UNHCR, Acting UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Wendy Chamberlin, has welcomed the nomination. UNHCR's 6,000 staff members work in 115 countries worldwide, many of them in remote and difficult duty stations. The refugee agency, which has won two Nobel Peace Prizes, was established by the UN General Assembly in 1950 and has helped more than 50 million people over the past five decades.
["UNHCR welcomes nomination of new High Commissioner", 24 May 2005, <http://www.unhcr.ch/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home/+DwwBm_epD73qwwwhFqnN0bItFqnDni5AFqnN0bIDzmxwww/opendoc.html>]
24 May 2005 The Minister of Immigration, Hon Paul Swain, has released the terms of reference for the review of the Immigration Act 1987, saying that a fundamental review of the Act was needed to make it more relevant to the needs of New Zealand and the international environment, both of which had changed since 1987. Work will be divided into seven broad areas: Purpose and principles of immigration legislation; Entry to New Zealand and migrant obligations; Grant of protection in New Zealand (such as refugees); Enforcement; Expulsion; Review and appeal; Inter-related issues (such as levels of decision-making). The Minister says that New Zealand's commitment to its international obligations is not in question. It is expected that law changes resulting from the review will be introduced into Parliament within two years. Part 4A of the Act, which covers security risk issues, will be reviewed separately.
[Hon Paul Swain, "Terms of reference for Immigration Act review released", Media Statement, 24 May 2005]
22 May 2005 The Minister of Immigration, Hon Paul Swain, has announced that the government is to spend an extra NZ$13.3 million over four years on protecting New Zealand's borders. Allocated in Budget 2005, the funding will increase the fraud detection capability of the New Zealand Immigration Service and strengthen its overstayer detection and removal, and border and investigation teams. The increased funding builds on the nearly NZ$20 million extra the government has spent on border security since 2003. The Advanced Passenger Screening introduced in 2003 has already stopped 650 people from entering New Zealand. The new funding will be used for employing fifteen extra border and investigation officers at Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown airports and five extra staff in overstayer detention and removal teams; strengthening the detection of false and tampered passports and travel documents; enhancing the Advanced Passenger Screening; improving risk profiling to stop people who pose a threat from entering New Zealand and increasing data sharing with Australian and immigration services and increasing offshore intelligence systems.
[Hon Paul Swain, "$13m boost for border security", Media Statement, 22 May 2005]
20 May 2005 The UNHCR has released the first-quarter asylum statistics in thirty-six industrialised countries which show a continuing downward trend in asylum numbers. Fewer people have applied for asylum in the first three months of 2005 compared to the last quarter and over the same period last year. The total of 81,900 asylum applications between January and March 2005 was down 13% compared to the last quarter of 2004, and 17% compared to the first three months of last year. In Europe as a whole, the number fell by 15% compared to the last quarter of 2004 and by 18% compared to the first quarter last year. The ten new EU countries received 6,000 asylum applications, a dramatic 46% drop from the last quarter. In North America the drop was relatively modest - 7% - compared to the last quarter of last year, and 11% down on the first quarter of last year. The fall is even more striking when seen over a two year period: compared to the first quarter of 2003, the EU is down 31%, Europe as a whole is down 34% and North America is down 40%. Australia and New Zealand - which between them receive less than 1% of the total - are down 44% compared to the first three months of 2003. France remained the top receiving country during the first quarter, the USA the second largest receiving country followed by the UK and Germany. Greece was the only receiving country to see a major increase in the first quarter of 2004 - up 177% to 2,816. Most of this increase is accounted for by Georgians, 992 of whom applied for asylum in Greece in the first quarter of 2005 compared to only 16 in the last quarter of 2004.
[UNHCR, “Industrialised countries record steady fall in asylum claims”, 20 May 2005, <http://www.unhcr.ch/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home/opendoc.pdf?tbl=STATISTICS&id=422439144&page=statistics>]
8 May 2005 Figures supplied by the New Zealand Immigration Service show that in the past year the largest number of applications for refugee status were submitted by Iranian nationals (61 out of 334 applicants). In the period July 2004 to April 2005 the figures were Afghanistan (1), Algeria (1), Bangladesh (9), Brazil (3), Bulgaria (9), Canada (1), Chile (21), China (23), Czech Republic (22), Democratic Republic of Congo (3), Egypt (1), El Salvador (3), Eritrea (1), Ethiopia (6), Fiji (7), Hungary (2), India (29), Iran (61), Iraq (13), Jordan (13), Kuwait (1), Kyrgyzstan (1), Laos (1), Malaysia (5), Mali (3), Burma (11), Nepal (3), Nauru (2), Nigeria (3), Pakistan (6), Palestine (2), Peru (6), Philippines (1), Russia (4), Romania (1), Somalia (8), South Africa (1), Sri Lanka (12), Sudan (3), Syria (9), Thailand (6), Turkey (1), Ukraine (1), Uruguay (1), Vietnam (7), Zimbabwe (6).
[Andrea Hotere, "Most refugees from Iran - stats", Sunday Star-Times, May 8, 2005, p A4]28 April 2005 The President of the Refugee Council, Dr Nagalingam Rasalingam, a medical practitioner by occupation, is reported as saying that women refugees in New Zealand are being increasingly subjected to domestic violence as their husbands struggle to adapt to a Western society where wives can be breadwinners. As a general practitioner he was seeing cases of refugee women who were clearly intimidated and scared by their husbands as the family relationships became strained by adapting to life in New Zealand. He had noted problems with adjustment, particularly among the Burmese community of about 300 in New Zealand, with tensions resulting from low employment rates and poor language skills. Pe Khin Aung, general secretary of the United Democratic Burmese Community, is reported as saying that he did not agree with Dr Rasalingam, as they worked hard to share information and learn about New Zealand culture.
[Angela Gregory, "Refugees feel the strain of cultural divide", NZ Herald, Thursday, April 28, 2005, p A5]
13 April 2005 Two Auckland law students (Eesvan Krishnan and Peter Williams) will launch the Equal Justice Project (EJP) on 2 May 2005. EJP is a newly-formed student-run organisation at the University of Auckland Law School and aims to promote access to justice in Auckland by promoting voluntary legal work by law students in partnership with community groups and the profession. In 2005, EJP will promote access to justice in three ways. First, there will be projects in partnership with community groups involving legal clinics, legal research and legal education to promote access to justice for particular communities with unmet legal needs. In 2005, EJP will launch the Refugee and Migrant Project to address the significant unmet legal needs in refugee and migrant communities. Second, it will conduct legal education workshops in schools to increase awareness about practical aspects of the law. Finally, in partnership with community law centres it will run legal clinics and conduct legal research in order to increase the capacity of the community law centres to meet legal needs in their communities. Eesvan Krishnan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and Peter Williams can be contacted at email@example.com.
[Lauren Mentjox, "Justice for all no matter how poor", The Aucklander, April 13, 2005, p 7]
9 April 2005 In a special ceremony in Manukau the first group of 75 Tampa refugees received their New Zealand citizenship. The Prime Minister, Rt Hon Helen Clark personally awarded the certificates of citizenship. In her speech the Prime Minister praised the work of Child, Youth and Family and the New Zealand Immigration Service as well as the staff of Selwyn College who designed a special programme for many of the Tampa boys who had almost no formal education.
[Angela Gregory, "'We are the truly lucky ones'", NZ Herald, Saturday, April 9, 2005]
12 March 2005 An Iraqi quota refugee who entered New Zealand in 1994 has been imprisoned indefinitely after being convicted of the rape, abduction and assault of a twenty year old student in Wellington. It is reported that he is a serial rapist who has preyed on women since he entered New Zealand. It is expected that he will be deported once he has served his time in prison, possibly making him the first refugee to be deported from New Zealand.
[NZPA, "Refugee rapist could be deported" Weekend Herald, Saturday, March 12, 2005, p A11]
10 March 2005 The House of Lords has rejected the argument that the proviso to Article 1C(5) is not limited to statutory refugees and extends to all Convention refugees. The House of Lords also rejected the implicit argument that past persecution alone is sufficient to justify a grant of refugee status under Article 1A(2) of the Convention. Similar conclusions have been reached by the New Zealand Refugee Status Appeals Authority in Refugee Appeal No. 70366/96 Re C  4 HKC 236.
[In Re B; R v Special Adjudicator ex parte Hoxha  UKHL 19]
2 March 2005 The UNHCR has reported that the number of people seeking asylum in developed countries dropped sharply for the third year in a row in 2004, hitting the lowest levels in sixteen years. Overall, numbers fell by an average of 22% across thirty-eight developed countries. In New Zealand and Australia the decline was 28% compared with 2003. The only large country to see a rise in asylum applications was France. Nations with small numbers of applicants, such as Poland, Finland and Cyprus, also had increases. A spokesperson for the UNHCR stated that the decline was a clear reflection of the impact a concerted effort to improve conditions in the region of origin can have on numbers seeking asylum further afield. The spokesperson added that the new statistics should reduce the pressure by politicians, media and the public to make asylum systems more and more restrictive. In most industrialised countries, it should simply not be possible to claim there is a huge asylum crisis any more.
[UNHCR, Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries, 2004, http://www.unhcr.ch/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home/opendoc.pdf?tbl=STATISTICS&id=422439144&page=statistics; Reuters, "Fewer seek asylum in wealthy nations", NZ Herald, Wednesday, March 2, 2005, p B2]
21 February 2005 Ruud Lubbers, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has announced that he has tendered his resignation to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan.
[UNHCR, "High Commissioner Lubbers advises staff of resignation", http://www.unhcr.ch/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home/+qwwBmenmHteqxwwwwnwwwwwwwhFqnN0bItFqnDni5AFqnN0bIcFqOc1xxnG5a+WahnxG1wGOa+XX9Dzmxwwwwwww1FqmRbZ/opendoc.htm]
4 February 2005 In answer to a Parliamentary question, the Hon Damian O'Connor (Acting Minister of Immigration) has disclosed that of the 966 refugee claimants who entered New Zealand with false, lost or destroyed passports between 1 January 2001 and 30 September 2004, 329 failed claimants are still in New Zealand. Of these, 259 have appeals or applications under consideration and/or hold valid permits and 79 are recorded as being unlawfully in New Zealand. In the last Budget the Government committed NZ$19.8 million to boost intelligence capacity to work with other countries.
["Immigration - Refugees - Failed Status Claimants in New Zealand" (2005) 28 TCL 3 (citing Hansard, 2/12/2004)]
26 January 2005 The Minister of Immigration, Hon Paul Swain has announced that a Bill to regulate immigration advisors is to be introduced to Parliament in May 2005 requiring advisors who assist migrants and asylum-seekers wanting to live in New Zealand to be licenced. The Minister estimates that at least 1,000 advisors may be affected. It will become an offence to provide immigration advice without a licence, for a person to say they hold a licence when they do not or say they are licenced to give advice when they are not. Offenders could face a fine of up to NZ$100,000, seven years imprisonment or both. An independent governing body will be established as a separate authority within the Department of Labour. It will provide minimum standards for the industry, administer a code of conduct and organise professional training for licenced advisors as well as establish complaint and redress procedures. Once legislation is passed the New Zealand Immigration Service will refuse an application put forward by an advisor if they are unlicenced. The legislation would also include offshore advisors who will be able to opt in to the licencing regime for the first three years. After that it will be mandatory. Certain occupations with existing consumer protection mechanisms, such as lawyers, will be exempt. Licences are expected to cost NZ$1,000 to NZ$2,000 a year. The not-for-profit sector will be subject to regulation, but it will not pay the full licensing fee. All advisors will have to be licenced within two years of the Act coming into force. Further information on the proposed legislation, including Cabinet papers are available at www.immigration.govt.nz/community/stream/advise.
[Hon Paul Swain, "Regulating immigration advisors", Media Statement, 26 January 2005]
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