Thursday, July 10, 2008

The HRC on the Immigration Bill

For those concerned about the government's Immigration Bill, here's some more to chew over: the Human Rights Commission's submission on the bill [doc]. In it they express serious concerns about the use of classified information, special advocates, the possibility of deportation to torture, the stringency of humanitarian exemptions (which seem, as usual, to be an effort to weasel out of our obligations under the Refugee Convention), the deportation of permanent residents and the blanket prohibition on entry for anyone ever deported from another country (if you need an example as for why this is a bad idea, try Harmeet Sooden; if he'd been victimised by Israel for his beliefs before trying to move to New Zealand, then under the bill he would never have been allowed to come here). The HRC was particularly scathing of the classified information provisions, which "will have the effect of shrouding the decision-making process in secrecy and subverting public sector accountability", and of the special advocate system, which they denounced as "kafkaesque" - pretty strong words for a government body.

Fortunately, select committees tend to pay attention to the HRC, so there's a good chance that some of these problems will be fixed. But if not, then we're going to have to gear up to fight the bill when it comes back to the House in a couple of weeks.