Mass arrivals legislation breach of NZ’s values

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

The Government’s decision to introduce ‘mass arrivals’ legislation goes against the values we all share of Aotearoa as a place where all people are treated fairly, the Green Party says.

“It is a human right for people escaping harm to arrive at any border, by any means, to seek asylum. When families arrive in Aotearoa the very least they should expect is that they will be treated with dignity,” says Green Party refugee spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman.

“The Government is today extending the power to detain them without charge or trial, without the right to be heard, rather than honour our commitment to uphold people’s basic rights to safety and fairness.

“The legislation is especially upsetting because it is unnecessary. We are not facing large numbers of boats carrying asylum seekers entering New Zealand waters. It is a conscious political choice to go down this route for no reason, and goes against who we are.

“This is the first time in our political history that a Government has made the humanity and rights of asylum seekers an election year issue. One of the greatest dangers the legislation poses is that it can be used by certain groups to stoke fear and division.

“We simply cannot turn an issue of human rights into political division. The Government needs to unequivocally support the right to asylum and the right not to be detained without trial. This Bill is a step backwards for human rights in Aotearoa.

“We are extremely concerned that Ministers are introducing this legislation before committing additional resources to ensure there is capacity for courts to process asylum claims and suitable accommodation while claims are being considered.

“New Zealand has a history of detaining asylum seekers in prisons, where they have suffered violence and abuse. Today the Government has acknowledged prisons will still be used for asylum seekers under this Bill.

“The Green Party will use every possible opportunity to ensure a fair and efficient asylum process based on human rights. This will show that when people are in harm’s way, we’ll do the right thing,” says Golriz Ghahraman.

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