Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Utterly heartless

The government has decided to deport Sital and Usha Ram, meaning that their New Zealand-born children will be forced to accompany them.

This is an utterly heartless decision. These kids are kiwis. And the government is saying they should be kicked out, sent to a country they have never seen where they will be subject to discrimination, forced to live in a slum, and denied medical care on the basis of their (unalterable) New Zealand citizenship. But in addition to being heartless, it is also almost certainly unlawful:

TDA Immigration, the company representing the family, said the minister's decision went against court decisions on similar cases.

In a 2008 finding, Justice Susan Glazebrook said a citizen had a "cardinal and absolute right of residence" and that a comparison had to be made between the child's living conditions in New Zealand and what they were likely to encounter once deported.

In another finding, she said serious detriment to the citizen child could be sufficient to outweigh the right of New Zealand to protect its borders, allowing an overstayer parent to remain in New Zealand to care for the child.

The reason for those decisions is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which we are a party, which requires that in any decision affecting children, "the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration". The government has utterly ignored that principle in favour of taking a harsh line and punishing these kids for having the wrong parents.

Over on KiwiPolitico, Lew suggests a simple counterstrategy:

invite John Campbell into your home. Let him and his camera crew be present at the time of the forcible separation; in your living room and at the airport, and let the whole world watch, and listen to the wailing.
I agree. If the government wants to deport kiwi kids or break up a family, let it be seen to do so - and pay the political price for it.