Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Refugees do not belong in prison

We like to think that New Zealand is a better, kinder place than Australia. We welcome refugees, while racist Australia puts them in Pacific gulags where they are tortured and abused. Except its not true: New Zealand operates its own refugee detention system to discourage and punish those who dare to believe our rhetoric. And according to Amnesty International, it involves widespread human rights abuses:

Shocking allegations of rape, assault and attempted suicide have emerged from asylum seekers who Amnesty International argues are being unfairly detained in prisons by Immigration New Zealand (INZ).

The human rights organisation has released its first extensive report into the treatment of 12 of 86 detained people who sought asylum here between 2015 and 2020.

Amnesty International said at every stage there were failures to ensure basic rights to a fair process.

You can read the full report here. Refugees are unreasonably and unlawfully detained, not informed of the reason for their detention and denied access to lawyers, incarcerated with criminals for years, and abused. The courts, which are meant to protect human rights, rubber-stamp this. It violates the Bill of Rights Act and international human rights law. The underlying reason for detention - to deter claims and punish those who enter New Zealand unlawfully or without travel documents - violates the Refugee Convention.

This has to stop. Prison is an inherently dehumanising environment. Putting people who have been tortured, abused and persecuted there is simply cruel and vicious. But I guess this is another example of Jacinda Ardern's "kindness".

Refugees have no place in prison. If you'd like to tell the government that, you can send a message here.