New Immigration Amendment Act 2013

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National led Mass Arrivals Bill has just passed into law. The law will now effectively allow immigration officials to detain asylum seekers arriving in a group of more than 30 people. 

On the surface, the law requires the officials to obtain a court order before they can detain the asylum seekers, but it appears from the wording of the law that the court will have no option, but to issue a warrant of commitment if one is asked. 

Once a warrant is issued, the immigration officials can then detain the asylum seekers for an unspecified duration of ‘practical and administratively workable time’. The immigration officials will not have to assess the asylum seekers’ refugee claims during those periods. The immigration officials decide the ‘practical and administratively workable time’ of up to 6 months to start with, then a batch of 28 days at a time. 

The law also effectively blocks the asylum seekers from access to judicial review of those detention decisions unless they have the court’s leave. The law then tells the court not to grant leave unless they prove IPT failed to deal with the issues on appeal, and the issues pose matters of general or public importance. 

Section 22 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights says everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily arrested or detained. The Honorable Michael Woodhouse (Minister of Immigration) believes the new mass arrival law is consistent with this fundamental human right…yeah, right. 

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