New Zealand has long imprisoned people seeking asylum. It’s time we said ‘This is not us’ and really meant it | Golriz Ghahraman & More News Here

The plight of asylum seekers is in sharp focus with heart-wrenching photos of exhausted and terrified Ukrainian households pressured into displacement. And whereas arriving at borders and seeking refuge is not new, the remedy of these pressured to cross borders for asylum has hardly ever been so compassionate.

Even in a nation that prides itself on compassionate governance, an impartial report into the detention of asylum seekers in New Zealand has discovered the worst of systemic abuse.

It seems Aotearoa New Zealand has been detaining asylum seekers arbitrarily in prison prisons, with out cost or trial, for years now. What the impartial report by Victoria Casey QC describes was no shock to the neighborhood of people preventing to disclose this harrowing fact and asking successive governments to make it cease.

The Casey report paperwork a damning Kafkaesque nightmare, the place these escaping persecution, torture and conflict are detained in New Zealand’s highest-security prisons unable to problem their detention.

I nonetheless keep in mind usually seeing asylum seekers within the cells at Auckland’s district court docket, desperately making an attempt to go papers documenting their plight to responsibility legal professionals by way of the slots of the busy assembly rooms. The responsibility legal professionals are prison legal professionals, there to take care of these with out illustration in fundamental appearances earlier than a prison court docket. They usually lack the experience or assets to place a case in refugee legislation.

Where they may, the judges of courts targeted on medication, violence and property crimes are hardly ever outfitted to problem the detention of a brand new arrival on refugee rights grounds. That’s a part of what the Casey report discovered. Refugee legal professionals are not resourced to behave for his or her purchasers in a problem to detention, and the prison courts simply by no means really pay attention.

For me, as a lawyer and now lawmaker, the work of bringing to mild asylum seeker detention has been private. I imagined my anxious dad and mom gripping my hand at Auckland airport when we first walked on “New Zealand soil” and instructed a person in what will need to have been a Customs uniform that we had been refugees. They took us apart for a brief interview, however first they requested if we had been hungry. Then, as comes an important nationwide safety menace to our island nation, they requested if we had been carrying any contemporary fruit or plant merchandise. They gave us entry to a lawyer and instructed us the method and despatched us off to be assisted by the Salvation Army. We had been welcomed, with entry to our fundamental human rights.

Golriz Ghahraman with her parents in Auckland in 1990, soon after they arrived in New Zealand from Iran.
Golriz Ghahraman along with her dad and mom in Auckland in 1990, quickly after they arrived in New Zealand from Iran. Photograph: HarperCollins Publishers NZ

The 100 or so asylum seekers whose detention is analysed within the Casey report equally posed no nationwide safety menace or public security danger that may necessitate their imprisonment. No lesser types of detention, for instance on the Mangere refugee resettlement centre (used to deal with quota refugees), or reporting necessities to police had been prioritised. So what would have occurred to my dad and mom, Iranian political activists, fleeing the danger of torture, having lived by way of a conflict, right here with a nine-year-old daughter they refused to boost below Islamic legislation? How would my dad fare at Mt Eden’s high-security remand jail?

Detained asylum seekers expertise all of the bodily and psychological violence prevalent in our overcrowded prisons. They arrive with present trauma and the wound is ripped open in a system that dehumanises them. Those I’ve spoken to report years of psychological well being struggles. They withdraw, develop into anxious and depressed, at simply that second when refugees usually expertise reduction and pleasure at being in our new homeland. They cling to at least one one other, not essentially from the identical nation of origin, faith or pre-asylum world, however with the identical scars from New Zealand’s prisons.

What different group of people do we enable to be routinely imprisoned with out cost or trial? Why do we presume asylum seekers to be a danger so excessive as to be locked up with our most harmful criminals till confirmed harmless?

We have already got a royal fee report into the occasions of the Christchurch terrorist assaults. The report instructed us our nationwide safety equipment is prejudiced in opposition to simply the sort of teams who’re almost certainly to hunt asylum, to flee conflict, to be focused by white nationalism and repressive regimes again dwelling.

Now the Casey report tells us once more what systemic prejudice seems to be like. Importantly, the report calls not just for an finish to arbitrary detention, however for correct resettlement assets to deal with asylum seekers as equal to quota refugees. It repeats these are not “queue-jumpers”. The suggestions of the Casey report are what the Green celebration and the human rights and asylum seeker neighborhood have been demanding for years, and they’re long overdue. The New Zealand authorities has accepted the report’s suggestions; now they should be applied.

New Zealand said after the Christchurch mosque assaults: “This is not us.” It seems that was extra of a name to motion than a actuality on the time.

Treating refugees and asylum seekers with dignity, and implementing the suggestions of the Casey report, is the promise of that decision.

New Zealand has long imprisoned people seeking asylum. It’s time we said ‘This is not us’ and really meant it | Golriz Ghahraman & More Latest News Update

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