RefNZ News




19 December 2006  Chairperson of RSAA appointed District Court Judge

13 December 2006  Pandemic legislation enacted

6 December 2006  Immigration Bill to be drafted

4 December 2006  Department of Labour releases detention statistics

2 December 2006  Somali community in NZ take issue with statement by UNHCR official

30 October 2006  Minister of Immigration to address immigration and refugee lawyers

10 October 2006  EU Qualification Directive takes effect from today

27 September 2006  Lost and stolen passports successfully detected by Regional Movement Alert System

21 September 2006   New Zealand formally accedes to the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness

21 September 2006  New Zealand signs treaty protecting UN field workers

21 September 2006  Afghans considered for resettlement in New Zealand

19 September 2006  UNHCR announces that downward trend in asylum applications in most industrialised countries continues

30 August 2006  Special residence policy for Zimbabweans amended to remove mandatory HIV screening

28 August 2006  High Court at Auckland dismisses premature challenge to RSAA decision

26 August 2006  Malaysian Airlines prosecuted

25 August 2006
  Refugee claims fall as border security measures tighten

22 August 2006  False travel documents and turnaround statistics

4 August 2006  Unsuccessful asylum-seeker given fifteen month sentence for possession of false passport

3 August 2006  Visa applicants from twenty-one unnamed countries investigated by Immigration New Zealand

3 July 2006  Over three hundred submissions received on Immigration Act Review

1 July 2006  Amendments to the SOLAS Convention and the SAR Convention come into force today

22 and 23 June 2006  LexisNexis Immigration Law 2006 Conference

20 June 2006  World Refugee Day

9 June 2006
  Refugee levels at 26-year low

4 June 2006  Four Romanian asylum-seekers jailed on dishonesty charges and passport fraud

1 June 2006   Prison sentence for people-smuggling

25 May 2006  Seminar: The Ombudsmen and immigration complaints

18 May 2006  Government allocates extra funding for border security measures as refugee claims in New Zealand plummet

11 May 2006  Deadline for public submissions on Immigration Act Review extended

3 May 2006  Somali women in New Zealand form support group

5 April 2006  Review of immigration legislation announced. Submissions invited by government.

30 March 2006  Opportunity for refugee practitioners to meet with Legal Services Agency & Refugee Status Branch

27 March 2006
  Regional Movement Alert List launch

17 March 2006  UNHCR continues to report fall in asylum applications

15 March 2006  Legislation to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture

5 March 2006  Auditor-General to examine staff misconduct at NZIS offices

1 March 2006  Community service for identity theft

1 March 2006  Guilty plea to immigration scam

1 March 2006  High Court at Auckland dismisses challenge to RSAA credibility determination

1 March 2006  Guilty plea to people-smuggling charge

28 February 2006  New Zealand Joins the Regional Movement Alert List

21 February 2006  High Court at Auckland upholds successful challenge to refusal by Legal Services Agency to grant legal aid for a judicial review application of a decision of the RSAA

10 February 2006  Improved settlement assistance

19 December 2006 The Attorney-General has announced that Elizabeth Margaret Aitken, currently Chairperson of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority, has been appointed a Judge of the District Court. Ms Aitken has served as a member of the Authority since 1995. The effect of Schedule 3C, para 3 of the Immigration Act 1987 is that Rodger Haines QC, Deputy Chairperson of the Authority, will act as the Chairperson until a new Chairperson is designated by the Minister of Immigration under Schedule 3C, para 2.

[Hon Dr Michael Cullen, "3 District Court Judges appointed", Media Statement, 19 December 2006]

13 December 2006 The Law Reform (Epidemic Preparedness) Bill passed its third reading today. The new Act addresses a number of gaps in previous legislation and gives the Government powers necessary to respond to a major outbreak of an infectious disease.

[Hon Pete Hodgson, "Pandemic legislation passes unanimously", Media Statement, 13 December 2006]

6 December 2006 The Minister of Immigration, Hon David Cunliffe, has unveiled a package of proposals for a new Immigration Act following public submissions and consultation on the Immigration Act Review discussion document issued in April 2006. The Minister says that the new laws will provide migrants with a fairer and simpler immigration system, with expanded provisions for human rights at every stage of the process. Under a new appeal system, all migrants "will have access to a world-class appeal tribunal" that will replace the four existing appeal bodies. The tribunal will fully consider their case in light of a broader set of international obligations and humanitarian considerations. People held in detention for immigration reasons will also have access to legal aid and there will be new alternatives to minimise the use of detention. Under the current law only refugee claimants and residents have the right to legal aid. An immigration bill to replace the existing Immigration Act 1987 will be drafted ready for introduction to Parliament in April 2007. The select committee stage will provide further opportunities for public input into the Bill.

[Hon David Cunliffe, "Fairness for migrants focus of new immigration law", Media Statement, 6 December 2006]

4 December 2006 Figures released by the Department of Labour show that on October 17 (a) forty-five people who had claimed refugee status were being held in custody, twenty-three in jail and twenty-two at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre; (b) eighteen of the forty-five were waiting for initial decisions from the Refugee Status Branch of Immigration New Zealand; (c) eleven had been rejected by the Refugee Status Branch and were waiting for decisions from the Refugee Status Appeals Authority; (d) thirteen had lodged at least one appeal to the Associate Immigration Minister; (e) five of those held in jail lodged refugee claims only after being served with a removal order, and were detained pending a decision on their claim; (f) seven had been through all appeals up to the Associate Minister and had been rejected every time, but required travel documents to leave New Zealand. Five of these were "refusing to cooperate with the Department of Labour staff in obtaining a travel document".

[Simon Collins, "NZ asylum seekers in jails as well as refugee centre", NZ Herald, Monday, December 4, 2006, front page & p A3]

2 December 2006 The Somali community in New Zealand has taken offence at a comment by a visiting UNHCR official implying that no more Somali refugees will be accepted by New Zealand because they have not integrated well with other New Zealanders. However, it is reported that other people who attended the national refugee forum in Christchurch last week have differing interpretations of what the official said. A spokeswoman for Somali Concern is reported as saying that approximately 3,000 Somalis lived in New Zealand. But the number of Somalis accepted under the annual UN refugee quota have fallen steadily from 207 in 1999-2000 to just thirteen in the latest year to June 2006. It is further reported that the quota of 750 for 2006-2007 has been allocated mainly to Burma and Afghanistan.

[Simon Collins, "NZ Somalis take issue with UN official", NZ Herald, Saturday, December 2, 2006, p A7]

30 October 2006 The Minister of Immigration, Hon David Cunliffe, will be the guest of honour at the Immigration & Refugee Committee Dinner to be hosted by the Auckland District Law Society. The dinner will be held at the Auckland Club, 34 Shortland Street on Monday 30 October 2006 at 7pm for 7.30pm. The cost is NZ$106.88 per person (GST included). Contact Eileen Yee at the Auckland District Law Society, PO Box 58, Auckland. Telephone (09) 303 5287. Fax (09) 309 3726.

10 October 2006 From 10 October 2006, EU countries are required to have implemented the Qualification Directive which sets out minimum standards for qualification for refugee status or other forms of international protection in the European Union. The UNHCR has urged member states to live up to their legal and moral obligation to protect refugees and asylum-seekers by maintaining the highest possible asylum standards.

[UNHCR, "UNHCR urges highest asylum standards as EU directive takes effect", 9 October 2006, <>]

27 September 2006 In the first six months of its operation (1 April 2006 to mid August 2006) the Regional Movement Alert System (RMAS) detected ninety-nine lost, stolen or otherwise invalid New Zealand passports being used to enter Australia or the USA. In addition, forty-six Australian and sixteen American passports reported as lost, stolen or otherwise invalid have been detected by the system when presented for travel to New Zealand at overseas ports. RMAS is a passport-checking scheme initiated by APEC, the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Group and currently operates between the USA, Australia and New Zealand. New Zealand joined the RMAS in March 2006 and it allows participating countries to detect the use of invalid travel documents either at airport check-in counters before passengers board flights, or before their arrival in the destination country. None of the ninety-nine New Zealand passports detected had been obtained by fraudulent application to the Department of Internal Affairs. They were passports reported as lost or stolen but later used for travel, in many cases innocently.

[Hon David Cunliffe, "Passport-checking system a flying success", Media Statement, 27 September 2006]

21 September 2006 The Minister of Foreign Affairs has today signed New Zealand's formal accession to the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness which seeks to reduce the incidence of statelessness by creating a domestic regime to confer nationality on people who would otherwise be stateless. Amendments to New Zealand domestic law required for the accession to the Convention were enacted last year by the Citizenship Amendment Act 2005. New Zealand's accession contained a permitted declaration asserting the right in certain circumstances to deprive people of citizenship if they have acted contrary to the country's interests.

[Rt Hon Winston Peters, "NZ signs treaty protecting UN field workers", Media Statement, 21 September 2006]

21 September 2006 New Zealand today signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel which requires states to criminalize attacks against all UN personnel working in the field and to extradite or prosecute those responsible for such attacks. The Optional Protocol will strengthen efforts to protect personnel working in UN field operations as the original convention is narrow in focus and essentially applies only to peacekeeping operations, which the majority of UN field workers are not involved in. The Protocol will enter into force after twenty-two countries have ratified it. New Zealand hopes to be able to ratify the treaty in the latter half of 2007.

[Rt Hon Winston Peters, "NZ signs treaty protecting UN field workers", Media Statement, 21 September 2006]

21 September 2006 It is reported that New Zealand is considering accepting 300 Afghan "refugees" who have been referred by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Two New Zealand officials leave on Friday for India and will spend three weeks interviewing the individuals. A Labour Department official is reported as saying that there is no guarantee that all would be accepted and the UNHCR would need to provide comment about why they had been determined as refugees and why they needed the protection of another country. Each person would be individually assessed to establish his or her identity and to ensure suitability for acceptance by New Zealand. The selected individuals would be part of New Zealand's national quota of 750 UN mandate "refugees" a year and would start arriving early next year.

[NZPA, "NZ considers letting in 300 Afghan refugees", NZ Herald, Thursday, September 21, 2006 <>]

19 September 2006 In the latest UNHCR statistical report, the downward trend in asylum applications in most industrialised countries continues unabated. Based on provisional data provided to UNHCR by governments, the report indicates that during the first six months of 2006, a total of 134,900 asylum applications were submitted in Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. This represents a drop of fourteen percent compared to the same period last year. Asylum applications lodged during the first half of 2006 are fifteen percent lower than the previous semester. The drop is attributed to a large extent to the introduction of more restrictive asylum policies as well as to improved conditions in some of the main countries of origin of asylum-seekers. UNHCR has expressed concern that the drive to keep the number of asylum-seekers as low as possible may be resulting in some genuine refugees being denied the protection they need. Over the past few years, eighty percent of asylum requests in industrialised countries were made in Europe. Europe's share has now declined to roughly seventy percent of asylum applications in the thirty-six industrialised countries included in the UNHCR report. At the same time, the share of North America has increased from about twenty percent of all applications in industrialised countries to nearly thirty percent during the first semester of 2006, mainly as a result of fewer people applying for asylum in Europe. The share of Australia and New Zealand has remained fairly stable at about one percent of all applications in industrialised countries. The main countries of origin of asylum applicants were China (8,800) followed by Iraq (8,500), Serbia and Montenegro (8,000), The Russian Federation (6,900) and Turkey (4,600). Among the few nationalities recording a rise in applicants were Iraqis, recording a twenty-five percent increase over the previous six months and up almost fifty percent over the same period a year ago.

[UNHCR, "Asylum applications in industrialised countries continue to plummet" (19 September 2006) <>; UNHCR, Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialised Countries: Second Quarter, 2006 (September 2006) <>]

30 August 2006 The Ministers of Health and of Immigration have announced a significant amendment to the Special Zimbabwe Residence Policy announced in 2005. Under that policy, which commenced on 4 July 2005, Zimbabweans who entered New Zealand before 23 September 2004 could apply for residence permits even if they did not meet the normal entry rules. The policy was devised as "one-off" as a response to the humanitarian crisis under Robert Mugabe. About 500 Zimbabweans have since been granted residence under the policy, but about 800 others who are eligible have yet to come forward to apply for residence. Cabinet has set a closing date of 28 February 2007 for applications. It is believed that some of the potential applicants under the policy are not coming forward because of uncertainty about their HIV status following a policy change to require mandatory HIV screening before approving residence applications. The Minister of Health says that New Zealand is now faced with a situation where people may be putting their health and the health of others at risk because of Government policy. This was unacceptable. To protect the health of New Zealanders and of those Zimbabweans seeking to become New Zealanders Cabinet had agreed to offer residence regardless of health status as long as applicants met other requirements, such as being of good character as shown by police and other checks.

The UNAIDS 2006 Report estimated the prevalence rate of HIV in Zimbabwe was about 20 percent. On that basis, of the 1,300 people who came to New Zealand under the Special Zimbabwe Residence Policy, 260 could have HIV (20 percent). But of the 500 who have already come forward and been tested, only 42 were found to be HIV positive (8.4 percent). It is estimated that of the 800 Zimbabweans who have yet to apply for residence in New Zealand and be screened, up to 160 could be infected with HIV. In the unlikely event that all required antiretroviral treatment it could cost about NZ$2.9 million a year.

A total of 2,474 people in New Zealand have been reported to have HIV infection to the end of December 2005.

[Hon David Cunliffe, "Humanitarian action to protect public health", Media Statement, 30 August 2006; Hon Pete Hodgson, "Humanitarian action to protect public health", Media Statement, 30 August 2006]

28 August 2006 A refugee status officer made a determination under s 129L(1)(b) of the Immigration Act 1987 that recognition of refugee status should be withdrawn on the grounds that the recognition had been obtained by fraud, forgery, false or  misleading representation or concealment of relevant information. The Refugee Status Appeals Authority (RSAA) on appeal had been asked to make a number of determinations on the procedure to be followed. The Authority declined to make a preliminary determination on the issues, saying that the points would be dealt with within the context of the substantive hearing. On an application for judicial review the High Court has held that there were no proper ground upon which the Court could review the "decision" not to make a decision until the substantive hearing. The rulings sought from the RSAA had been entirely procedural in nature and as no substantive decision had been made in relation to the matters raised there was no respect in which the applicant could argue that he was in any way embarrassed or that his position had been unfairly prejudiced by anything that had been done. No reviewable error had been established.

[M v Refugee Status Appeals Authority (High Court Auckland, CRI2006-404-001046, 28 August 2006, Cooper J)]

26 August 2006 It is reported that Malaysian Airlines is to be prosecuted for allegedly bringing illegal immigrants to New Zealand. A Department of Labour official is reported as saying that Immigration New Zealand was taking the legal action to make an example of the airline and to demonstrate that failure to screen passengers will not tolerated. Under the Immigration Act 1987 airlines are obliged to ensure that all persons boarding the craft have appropriate documentation for immigration purposes, including a passport or certificate of identity, a visa (where required), evidence of onward travel arrangements and of sufficient funds (where required) and any other documentation (if any) specified in the Immigration Regulations 1999.

["Immigration to sue Malaysian Airlines", Weekend Herald, Saturday, August 26, 2006, p A3]

25 August 2006 It is reported that the number of people denied boarding passes to fly to New Zealand has increased sixfold since advance passenger screening was introduced three years ago. Department of Labour figures show numbers rose from 113 in 2003-2004 to 680 in the past financial year. The Manager for Border Security is reported as saying that the increase had resulted in a drop in asylum-seekers from 263 in 2002-2003 to 87 in the past year. He is further reported as saying that airlines did advance passenger processing to check people against Department of Labour databases and some Australian and US records of lost and stolen passports. In an alert to a possible problem, the airline was instructed to contact New Zealand immigration on a twenty-four-hour phone where a decision was made whether the person should be allowed to board. The system was only used by New Zealand and Australia but other countries were considering similar moves. The spokesperson is also reported as saying that nearly 1,500 people were turned around at New Zealand airports because they did not meet entry requirements. This was a significant increase from the 2002-2003 year where 331 people were declined entry.

[Angela Gregory, "Vetting reduces Zaoui repeats", NZ Herald, Friday, August 25, 2006, p A2]

22 August 2006 Despite pre-flight passenger screening overseas, more than 170 people have entered New Zealand with false travel documents since 2004. Fifty-five of them were charged and deported and 118 were allowed to stay to pursue claims to refugee status. In 2006 ten people have been refused entry after being caught at the border with false passports. The figures for 2005 and 2004 were 25 and 20 respectively. Almost half were Chinese travelling on South Korean or Hong Kong passports.

["False passports detected", NZ Herald, Tuesday, August 22, 2006, p A3]

4 August 2006 A Syrian man who pleaded guilty to a charge of having a document in his possession purporting to be a passport issued by the Government of Australia has been sentenced to fifteen months imprisonment with leave to apply for home detention. The Court did not consider there to be any aggravating factors relevant to the offending that were not already inherent in the nature of the charge. A starting point of two years was considered appropriate but the Court regarded the guilty plea and mental health to be mitigating factors. The defendant was married to an Australian citizen and had three children. He obtained the false passport with the intention of immediately seeking refugee status upon arrival in New Zealand and paid US$500 for the passport. His application for refugee status was subsequently declined. He had no previous convictions in New Zealand and suffered from ongoing depression.

[R v Zanzoul (High Court Auckland, CRI 2004-092-007694, 4 August 2006, Winkelmann J)]

3 August 2006 It is reported that a profiling group within Immigration New Zealand is examining 7,500 applications a year from twenty-one high-risk countries. The identity of those countries is being kept secret. One quarter of the applications are being declined, up from one in ten in the past. The Minister of Immigration, Hon David Cunliffe, is reported as saying that the message to those coming to New Zealand was "it pays to be honest, and it pays to come here for the right reasons". It is also reported that TV One has reported that immigration officials were trawling through 2,000 cases a year of migrants from high-risk countries. It was expected about 360 people a year had been coming in on fraudulent grounds. In June 2006 the Minister of Immigration was reported as saying that the special profiling group had reviewed 20,000 decisions.

[NZPA, "Visa applications probed from 21 separate countries", NZ Herald, Thursday, August 3, 2006, p A3]

3 July 2006 A tentative count made after submissions closed on 1 July 2006 shows that there more than three hundred original submissions on the Immigration Act Review discussion paper.  The review will now move to the next phase, being an analysis of the submissions by officials. The Minister of Immigration hopes to have a bill ready to introduce to Parliament by April 2007.

[Hon David Cunliffe, "One thousand five hundred submissions on Immigration Act review", Media Statement, 3 July 2006]

1 July 2006 Two maritime conventions have been amended to facilitate search-and-rescue at sea. The conventions are the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 (the SOLAS Convention) and the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, 1979 (the SAR Convention). The amendments come into force today and aim to ensure that the obligation of the captain of a ship to render assistance is complemented by a corresponding obligation of states to cooperate in rescue situations, thereby relieving the captain of the responsibility to care for survivors, and allowing individuals who are rescued at sea in such circumstances to be delivered promptly to a place of safety. In essence, the amendments require signatory states and other parties to cooperate to ensure that ships rescuing persons in distress face minimum disruption in their schedules by arranging disembarkation as soon as reasonably practicable. For their part, captains who have picked up people at sea - or found stowaways on board - are obliged to treat them humanely within the capabilities of the ship. UNHCR and the UN International Maritime Organisation (IMO) will also issue an information leaflet in the coming months that will provide guidance on relevant legal provisions and procedures to shipmasters, ship owners, government authorities, insurance companies and other interested parties involved in rescue at sea situations. A spokesman for the UNHCR is reported as saying that the UNHCR had a direct interest in the rescue of migrants in peril at sea since, even if the majority may be migrants without international protection needs, a certain proportion of those travelling irregularly by sea turn out to be refugees.

[UNHCR, Maritime conventions amended to facilitate search-and-rescue at sea, UNHCR, 30 June 2006; <>]

22 and 23 June 2006 This two-day conference organised by LexisNexis will feature key sessions on the social and economic basis for New Zealand’s current immigration policies; trends in domestic and international migration; the review of the Immigration Act 1987; the Skilled Migrant Category; Business Migration; the appeal tribunal processes; regulation of the immigration consultancy industry; citizenship law and recent changes; immigration fraud; managing the border and the implications of a pandemic on immigration. The venue is the Langham Hotel, Auckland. For further details visit the LexisNexis website at

20 June 2006 The theme for World Refugee Day on 20 June 2006 is Giving 19 Million Refugees Reason to Hope. The UNHCR encourages you to visit the World Refugee Day website to learn about events and ways in which individuals can participate in this internationally recognised day. The UNHCR website is to be found at <>. On the Welcome page click on World Refugee Day.

9 June 2006 The annual global count of uprooted people by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees shows that the number of refugees fell from 9.5 million in 2004 to 8.4 million last year. But the overall number of concern for the agency rose 1.3 million to 20.8 million during the same period because of UNHCR's expanded role in caring for the world's internally displaced people, according to the 2005 Global Refugee Trends report. This report says that 2005 was the fifth straight year in which the global population of refugees declined.

[UNHCR, UNHCR global refugee Tally at 26-year low, but more internally displaced (9 June 2006) <>; UNHCR, 2005 Global Refugee Trends: Statistical overview of populations of refugees, asylum-seekers, internally displaced persons, stateless persons, and other persons of concern to UNHCR (9 June 2006) <>]

4 June 2006 Four Romanian asylum-seekers were last week jailed for between two and three years on dishonesty charges and passport fraud. It is reported that they stole more than NZ$100,000 from vulnerable, elderly women in an elaborate bank and Eftpos-card scam across the North Island.

[Jared Savage, "Revealed: The $100,000 bank card robbery", Herald on Sunday, June 4, 2006, pp 4 & 5]

1 June 2006 In the Napier District Court an Indonesian man has been sentenced to imprisonment for four and a half years after pleading guilty to seven counts of aiding another person to remain in New Zealand unlawfully, four counts of aiding another person to enter New Zealand unlawfully and four counts of arranging for an unauthorised migrant to enter New Zealand. The Indonesian man is reported to be the second person to be convicted for people-smuggling under the Crimes Act 1961. In 2004, Victor Chechelnitski was jailed for three years for smuggling in three Ukranian nationals on false Israeli passports.

[NZPA, "4 1/2 years for smuggling Indonesians on false papers", NZ Herald, Friday, June 2, 2006, p A4]

25 May 2006 The Continuing Legal Education Programme of the Auckland District Law Society will today hold a seminar on "The Ombudsmen and Immigration Complaints" at Barrycourt Hotel and Convention Centre from 4pm to 6pm. The general matters covered will include a description of the office, ole and functions of an Ombudsman; an Ombudsman's jurisdiction under the Ombudsmen Act 1975 and the Official Information legislation; an Ombudsman's powers in relation to remedies and how these can be of assistance in the context of current immigration laws. Particular topics to be covered, with specific reference to immigration complaints, will include what complaints can be made to an Ombudsman; when is an Ombudsman likely not to intervene; what should be done before making a complaint; what information should a complaint contain and what are the possible remedies? The speakers are John Pohl, Legal Counsel at the Office of the Ombudsmen and Yu-Lina George who is an investigating officer at the Office of the Ombudsmen in Wellington. Contact the ADLS at PO Box 58 Auckland to register.

18 May 2006 Commenting on the fact that Budget 2006 allocates an extra NZ$16 million over four years to border security measures, the Minister of Immigration, Hon David Cunliffe, has stated that the extra funding will provide additional staff and resources for the Department of Labour's profiling group to ensure informed and correct decisions are made about people wanting to come to New Zealand. Last year the Government dedicated NZ$13 million to border security initiatives, adding to the nearly NZ$20 million spent in the area since 2003. The Minister says that this has seen "major improvements in border security technology and processes, including screening all passengers before they board flights to New Zealand. This new technology has contributed to the number of spontaneous asylum-seekers falling from 1694 in 2000 to 395 in 2004/05". The Minister added that the border security initiatives of the Government "are clearly  working and the extra funding in Budget 2006 builds on this progress".

[Hon David Cunliffe, "Budget 06: More money for safer borders", Media Statement, 18 May 2006]

11 May 2006 The Government has extended the deadline for public submissions on the Immigration Act Review discussion paper from 14 June 2006 to 30 June 2006. This follows significant public interest in the proposals. The extra two weeks will allow the Department of Labour to respond to all the requests for meetings and ensure people have extra time to consider their submissions.

[Hon David Cunliffe, "More time for Immigration Act Review submissions", Media Statement, 11 May 2006]

3 May 2006 A support group formed by Somali women in New Zealand in October 2005 now has about 60 members. New Zealand Somali Women Incorporated was formed to empower Somali women and to provide a safe place where they can express their views freely in a supportive environment. The Chairwoman of the Association is reported as saying that although there are other Somali groups operating in Auckland, many are run by men, making it difficult for women in these groups to be heard and for their needs to be taken into account. The group helps members adjust to life in New Zealand and to retain their own culture. It meets twice a week and runs classes including English as a second language, sewing and traditional Maori weaving. There are also members in Wellington, Christchurch and Hamilton. For more information phone (09) 620-7240.

[Charlotte Cox, "Group empowers Somali women", Central Leader, Wednesday, May 3, 2006, p 9]

5 April 2006 The Minister of Immigration, Hon David Cunliffe, has today released the Immigration Act Review Discussion Paper 2006 for public consultation, with the aim of incorporating feedback into a new Immigration Bill at a later date. The Paper is said to contain the most comprehensive review of immigration laws since the present Immigration Act was passed in 1987. Possible changes outlined in the discussion document include a clear, guiding purpose statement for the Immigration Act; simplifying the visa and permit systems; increasing delegation to officials of powers held by the Minister of Immigration; more comprehensive grounds for excluding non-citizens from entering New Zealand, and a streamlined approach to the expulsion of non-citizens; clarifying and simplifying systems of review and appeal of decisions; using classified information in decision-making; strengthening compliance, enforcement and detention provisions, including the ability to obtain biometric information where necessary; strengthening obligations on third parties (such as sponsors, employers, carriers and education providers); and establishing a single procedure that assesses all international obligations to protect a person, rather than considering obligations individually. The Department of Labour is holding a series of meetings with stakeholders during the consultation period which starts on Wednesday 5 April 2006. Written submissions are due by 14 June 2006. The discussion paper is available at <>. Hard copies can be ordered from or by freephone 0508 558 855.

[Hon David Cunliffe, "Sweeping review of immigration laws unveiled", Media Statement, 5 April 2006]

30 March 2006 The ADLS Immigration & Refugee Law Committee has arranged a meeting with representatives from the Legal Services Agency and Refugee Status Branch at 1pm on Thursday 30 March 2006. The venue is the ADLS Chancery Chambers, 6th Floor, Council Room. There are three items on the Agenda. First, in relation to the RSB, disclosure; confirmation of interview dates outside of interview report; ACRP conditions; interpretation of new law regarding children. Second, in relation to the LSA, detainee referral; evidential requirements for claims; timing of legal aid payments. Third, general matters. Refugee practitioners are invited to RSVP by Tuesday 28 March 2006 to Taina White, ADLS, PO Box 58, Auckland, Telephone (09) 303 5283, Fax (09) 309 3726, Email

27 March 2006 The joining by New Zealand of the Regional Management Alert List (RMAL) has been marked at a function held at the United States Embassy in Wellington. The RMAL pilot scheme allows participating countries (presently Australia, the USA and New Zealand) to detect the use of invalid travel documents either at airport check-in counters before passengers board flights, or before their arrival in the destination country. RMAL follows other New Zealand initiatives to enhance passport security, including Advanced Passenger Processing, the introduction of e-Passports with leading edge security features, stricter issuing processes and larger penalties for passport crime. It is said that the RMAL initiative will strengthen the border security of New Zealand and enhance the integrity of New Zealand passports.

[Hon David Cunliffe, "Passport initiative boosts border security", Media Statement, 27 March 2006]

17 March 2006 According to preliminary annual figures released by the UNHCR, in the last five years the number of asylum-seekers arriving in all industrialized countries has fallen by half. Asylum applications in 50 industralised countries fell sharply for the fourth year in a row in 2005, reaching their lowest level in almost two decades. Since 2001, applications for asylum in 50 industralized countries have declined by 49 percent. Last year, 336,000 asylum applications were submitted - 15 percent fewer than in 2004. In most individual asylum countries, the 2005 total was the lowest for many years. In Denmark and Germany, for example, the number is the lowest since 1983; in Canada since 1985 and in Switzerland since 1986. In the United Kingdom, the number of asylum applications in 2005 was the lowest since 1993. The UNHCR says that there are various reasons for the steady fall in asylum applications. Improvements in the situation in some regions of origin of asylum-seekers, such as the Balkans, Afghanistan and parts of Africa, is an important factor. But the imposition of ever more restrictive asylum policies in the industrialised world has undoubtedly also played a role. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, is reported as saying that industrialised countries should be asking themselves whether by imposing ever tighter restrictions on asylum seekers they are not closing their doors to men, women and children fleeing persecution.

When the number of asylum-seekers is looked at in proportion to a country's total population, UNHCR ranks Cyprus (which received 30 asylum-seekers per 1,000 inhabitants), Austria (18), Sweden (14), Norway (13) and Switzerland (13) as the top receiving countries, with the UK, Italy, France and Germany all coming in mid-table. The per capita numbers of asylum-seekers in Australia & New Zealand (1.4), Canada & the United States (1.6), remain considerably lower than in Europe. The largest drop in the number of asylum-seekers in the last five years was recorded outside Europe. Canada and the United States  received 54 percent fewer asylum requests in 2005 than in 2001, while asylum applications in Australia and New Zealand plummeted by 75 percent in the same period. In 2005 the drop in Australia and New Zealand was minus 6 percent. In Australia and New Zealand, 82 percent of all asylum-seekers in 2005 originated from Asia. During the fourth quarter of 2005 Australia/New Zealand experienced one of the highest falls in asylum applications (-4%).

[UNHCR, "Asylum applications in the last five years drop by half", (17 March 2006) <>; UNHCR Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries, 2005, (17 March 2006); <>]

15 March 2006 A Crimes of Torture Amendment Bill has today been introduced to Parliament to enable New Zealand to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture. The Optional Protocol establishes a system of regular visits to places of detention carried out by complementary international and national independent expert bodies, such as the Ombudsmen and Police Complaints Authority.

[Hon Mark Burton, "New anti-torture Bill introduced to Parliament", Media Statement, 15 March 2006]

5 March 2006 It has been reported that the office of the Auditor-General has identified immigration fraud as a high risk area and will look at policy around how it is handled by the New Zealand Immigration Service (NZIS). The report will take up to ten months to complete. It is reported that nearly 100 cases of staff misconduct at immigration offices overseas has prompted the investigation.  It is also reported that over the past four years there have been 92 cases of staff misconduct, some where money was allegedly illegally received.  In the 2002/2003 year there were nineteen cases of misconduct by NZIS staff and in the next year it increased to twenty three. Over the 2004/2005 year the figure was forty while in the present financial year ten staff have been charged with misconduct. The Department received 342 allegations over those years and is still investigating twenty seven of those. The Department of Labour Deputy-Secretary of Workforce, Mary Anne Thompson is reported as saying that significant resources over the past two years have gone into ensuring that the Department’s systems are rigorous as the Department did not tolerate wrong doing. Allegations are taken very seriously and all are investigated. The majority of cases were low-level dishonesty, although nineteen were criminal. She said the problems ranged from theft, missing application fees, inappropriate processing of family member applications, undeclared criminal convictions and unjustified enquiries into applicants’ records. 

[Irene Chapple, “Immigration office fraud sparks probe”, Sunday Star Times, March 5, 2006, p A2]

1 March 2006 A Rotorua man who stole the identity of a dead baby to obtain a false New Zealand passport has been sentenced to 300 hours community service after giving a NZ$10,000 cheque to the Child Cancer Foundation as reparation for the crime. The Rotorua District Court was told that the man used the false passport several times to visit his girlfriend in Britain. He had overstayed a British visa on his own passport and wanted to get back into the country to maintain his relationship. The Court found that he had not offended for financial gain or with the intention of committing other crimes. The Passports Act 1992 was amended in 2002 to increase the maximum penalty for possessing a false passport from two years to ten years. The Department of Internal Affairs is reported as saying that the so-called “tombstone” method used to obtain a false passport was no longer possible. Since 2003 all new passport applications have been checked against birth and death records.

[Juliet Rowan, “Identity thief avoids jail for passport fraud”, NZ Herald, Wednesday, March 1, 2006, p A9]

1 March 2006 In the High Court at Napier a man has pleaded guilty to seven charges relating to his role in an immigration scam which enabled fellow Indonesians to enter New Zealand illegally.
[“Immigration scam”, NZ Herald, Wednesday, March 1, 2005, p A5]

1 March 2006 In the High Court at Auckland Priestley J has dismissed an application for review by a Bangladeshi national who claimed to have been a political activist and who also asserted (after the RSAA hearing) that he was a homosexual who had entered into a stable homosexual relationship with a Bangladesh national whom he had met in New Zealand and that this relationship now put him at risk were he to return to Bangladesh. The RSAA had reconvened to examine this new claim. In its decision the RSAA found that none of the evidence was credible. In the High Court the challenge to the RSAA credibility finding failed, Priestley J noting that a judicial review application cannot possibly be used to invite the High Court to re-assess credibility issues and the weight given to evidence. The application for judicial review was dismissed.

[GA v Refugee Status Appeals Authority (High Court Auckland, CIV 2005-404-1520, 1 March 2006, Priestley J)]

1 March 2006 In the Christchurch District Court an Australian national has pleaded guilty to a charge of assisting a person to enter New Zealand illegally. The man has been remanded in custody for sentence later in the week. The Court was told that with the help of an unnamed third person, the defendant obtained a forged Greek passport to assist an Iranian national to enter New Zealand illegally. When the Iranian arrived in New Zealand on 14 August 2005, he claimed refugee status. The Department of Labour group manager, border security, Api Fiso is reported as saying that the Iranian national was one of about twenty people a year stopped by New Zealand border control officers for travelling on false documents. In 2005, twenty seven were refused entry.

[“People smuggler career ends in Christchurch”, NZ Herald, Wednesday, March 1, 2006, p A11]

28 February 2006 It has been reported that New Zealand will join the Regional Movement Alert List, a system used by the USA and Australia to detect the use of lost and stolen passports. When passengers check in at airports they will immediately be identified if they attempt to use lost or stolen passports if they are from one of the participating countries. 

[“NZ joins passport alert system”, NZ Herald, Tuesday, February 28, 2006, p A3]

21 February 2006 In the High Court at Auckland the Legal Services Agency has been criticised for giving "patently insufficient" reasons in declining an application for legal aid to challenge (by way of judicial review) a decision of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority. Although the applicant for legal aid faced "formidable difficulties" in the judicial review, that was not the same as saying he never had any prospect of success. The appeal by the Legal Services Agency against the decision of the Legal Aid Review Panel was dismissed.

[Legal Services Agency v Hosseini (High Court Auckland, CIV2005-404-743, 21 February 2006, Priestley J)]

10 February 2006 A nationwide initiative called Settlement Support New Zealand is being introduced in 19 areas nationwide to help new migrants and refugees to access information in services they need to settle in their community. Today the Minister of Immigration, Hon David Cunliffe launched the Settlement Support initiative in Waitakere. The Minister said that the first two or three years of settlement are the most challenging for migrants and refugees. A lack of local knowledge can mean that people miss out on the support and services which are available to them. Settlement Support Waitakere will provide a vital first point of contact to help direct newcomers to the services they need. It will build on existing connections between government agencies, local service providers, migrant and refugee communities and the people of Waitakere.

[Hon David Cunliffe, “Strengthened support for Waitakere newcomers”, Media Statement, 10 February 2006.]


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