The Immigration Bill and torture

July 10th, 2008 at 10:23 am by David Farrar

I’m actually supportive of most aspects of the Government’s Bill. The current system is explited by lawyers so that simple cases takes the best part of a decade to resolve.

However there are some worrying aspects, ably covered by Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn and Gordon Campbell at Scoop.

In a welcome move, the Immigration Bill does enshrine various UN conventions – including the Convention Against – in our domestic law. However, in my earlier post, I outlined how the Immigration Bill violates key provisions of that same UN Convention Against – by, for instance requiring ( see clause 122b ) an asylum seeker to prove they would face a worse risk of torture if returned home, than would be usual in their country.

The test should not (and is not under the UN convention) a worse risk of torture than other citizens, but whether there is any significant risk at all.

Ironically it means the more despotic a regime is, the more easily one could deport people back there as if they torture and maim everyone with impunity then you are at no worse risk.

I am sure that this clause will be changed, but you do have to worry about how it got in there in the first place.

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17 Responses to “The Immigration Bill and torture”

  1. dave strings (608 comments) says:

    Couldn’t resist posting this, even if it is off-topic. I found it on one of our self-made multimillionaire’s blog . . . . . . .

    National Party leader John Key and his deputy Bill English were amoung those named by Helen Clark as the ring-leaders of a ’sick, sinister and systematic’ attempt to overthrow the New Zealand government.

    According to the allegations – which Clark has referred to Police Commissioner Howard Broad – the National Party plans to topple the current Labour government and seize power for themselves. Sources within the Labour Party reveal that the takeover was planned to coincide with the general election scheduled later this year.

    ‘This was a calculated attempt by the National Party to subvert the democrat process for its own vile ends,’ Clark said. ‘The people of New Zealand need to know what kind of malignant, devious traitors John Key and his cronies really are.’

    The Prime Minister made the allegations at the beginning of question time in a blistering attack on the National Party and its senior leadership. Clark claimed to possess advertising material, press statements and electoral commission documentation supporting her claims.

    ‘This was clearly a well planned, ongoing attempt to overthrow the rightful government of New Zealand by deliberately engaging in a nationwide election campaign,’ Clark said. ‘By convincing people to vote for them National intended to take control of the country for their own sinister ends
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    and now back to our regular scheduled thread

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  2. PaulL (5,987 comments) says:

    I can see a certain kind of logic in saying that you aren’t really an asylum seeker if you are just joe blow in a particular country, and everyone in that country is potentially subject to torture. Asylum seekers I thought were supposed to be people who were political activists or the like, who were repressed in their country.

    Whilst I can agree that anybody subject to torture should be allowed to leave, in some cases that would mean absolutely anybody from those countries could claim asylum. I’m not sure that was the intent, so I can see why someone might try to limit it.

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  3. pushmepullu (686 comments) says:

    You know that a bill must be OK if it is criticised by somebody like Idiot/Savant!

    Seriously though. So it is not in compliance with the UN’s requirements – we are not governed by the UN, not yet anyway, and I say that New Zealand should be able to write its own laws as appropriately and democratically requested by our citizens, not some bunch of diplomats from dictatorial states on the other side of the world. This whole ‘no torture’ idea seems designed with the Ahmed Zaoui case in mind and with the declared aim of letting in a self-confessed member of a terrorist organisation – yeah right! Perhaps we should be allowing in members of Al Qaeda since they face rigorous interrogation techniques in Guantanamo Bay?

    Looks to me like this bill provides for a common sense anti-terrorist immigration policy that prioritises people who will contribute to New Zealand’s culture rather than import alien ideas and foster separatist enclaves. So doubtless Labour and the Greens will oppose it. Don’t worry John mate just hang in there till November and then you can sort out our borders.

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  4. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    The whole asylum seeker thing is a crock. A few years ago the largest single group of people claiming asylum in New Zealand were Thai nationals. Thailand?

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  5. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    pushmepullu, it’s Labour’s bill!!

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  6. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    Seriously though. So it is not in compliance with the UN’s requirements – we are not governed by the UN, not yet anyway, and I say that New Zealand should be able to write its own laws as appropriately and democratically requested by our citizens, not some bunch of diplomats from dictatorial states on the other side of the world.

    pushmepullu – this isn’t some UN ruling. It’s a treaty New Zealand voluntarily signed up to, ratified, and passed laws to give effect to. We are not being told what to do by the UN, we were voluntarily entering into an agreement with a large number of like-minded countries: “if you agree not to torture people, and agree not to send people to countries that will torture them, then we promise to do the same.”

    If New Zealand wanted to be able to torture people, or wanted to be able to send people to countries that will torture them, then the Government shouldn’t have signed it. And if it signed it then changed its mind we shouldn’t have ratified it. And if Parliament disagreed it shouldn’t have passed the laws required to give it effect in domestic law. How much more democratic – writing our own laws etc. – do you want?

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  7. PhilBest (5,125 comments) says:

    Yeah, but I can see the point here is that anything drawn up by an organisation, the UN, an outright majority of whose members are human-rights-abusing totalitarian regimes, is going to be suspect. This is just more par for the course for the UN as far as I’m concerned. Yes, Graeme Edgeler, of course we should scrutinize international “treaties” and the like before we sign up to them. But we have a problem when we have a majority of ignorant people in our land who have all sorts of misplaced utopian ideas about what the UN is, and we have a PM and a government which shamelessly exploits this fact (which itself originates in the hegemony that their leftist politics has over our media and education institutions).

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  8. PaulL (5,987 comments) says:

    Phil, rather than attacking the UN, how about we talk about the actual treaty. Do you or do you not support expelling people back to countries that routinely torture their citizens? I can think of two reasonable answers, I am sure there are more:
    1. No, torture is wrong, and if there is someone in NZ, albeit claiming asylum, and to send them home would expose them to significant likelihood of torture, then we should let them stay

    2. Torture is wrong, but our remit extends to giving asylum to those whom are subject to torture because they are activists for freedom – you know, members of opposition parties in repressive states. Whilst everyone else in some countries are also subject to torture, it isn’t practical nor the intent of this treaty to offer every citizen of another country asylum.

    I’m leaning a bit to number 2 – otherwise if we really think it is so bad we really should just form a coalition of the willing and sort said country out once and for all – why only care about the people who actually manage to make their way to NZ?

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  9. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    Hmmm – when any sort of torture was involved, I’d like to think the good people of New Zealand would be compassionate enough to happily provide a safe haven for someone who was in that sort of trouble; and put aside our own relatively insignificant concerns like

    “Will they integrate into our society?”
    “Will they cost our welfare system a bit of money?”
    “Will I have to SEE them, as I cruise past in the Merc?”

    How can you put a price on basic human decency and compassion?

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  10. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    the UN is populated by a sicko pack of bastards that dont meet the moral or ethical standards of the bulk of Kiwis.,

    IMHO NZ should only be there by sufferance The vast majority of the countries are guilty of the worst abuses of human kind

    Kow towing to these morons thugs and pond life is a sickening spectacle

    Again IMHO NZ should resign from the UN and propose setting up a new body of only those countries that have the will capacity and capability of attaining a short list of human rights ethical and moral standards.

    Why should we continue with these saps.
    What are they going to do to us Bomb us Invade us Rape Pilage and Burn us

    Remember the mid 80s and our nuke free stance. Why not do that again over this issue

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  11. Captain Crab (351 comments) says:

    Does nine years of Helen Clark count as torture?

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  12. baxter (893 comments) says:

    Most refugees who claim asylum because they may be subject to torture in their home country should surely be able to find a Nation signed up to these various UN treaties much closer to their home country than New Zealand.

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  13. PhilBest (5,125 comments) says:

    PaulL, I could have a lengthy discussion about what I think about who should or should not be deported to countries that carry out torture. Someone who is a terrorist from an organisation dedicated to killing NZ-ers, say, who cares? But someone who deserves the benefit of the doubt because of messy circumstances in the country they came from, nah, we can give them the benefit of our humane justice.

    Here’s a poser for you. Should we give refuge to someone who will be brutalised by the regime in Iran BECAUSE they are gay, and NOT give refuge to someone who will be brutalised because they are a Christian? BARF.

    But I would prefer to keep labouring the point about the UN.

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  14. PaulL (5,987 comments) says:

    PhilBest, if the someone will be brutalised, and it is specific to them (gay or christian), then we should give them refuge. However, if they will be brutalised just because they happen to live in that country, then…how about we go to the UN and ask for an invasion?

    Actually, I reckon there should be a division of the UN entitled to assasinate world leaders. You should need an 80% vote, and then they get the chop. So if you piss off enough of the world you’re history (including a bunch of reasonable places, so Bush would have been reasonably safe despite the anti-Americanism that goes on). So Mugabe would be gone already. So would Kim Il Jung.

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  15. PhilBest (5,125 comments) says:

    PaulL, you are one of these Kiwis I refer to earlier who have got NO IDEA of how the UN works. Non-Democratic Totalitarian States are an outright majority at the UN, so if a measure like you propose WAS adopted, we would see a stream of resolutions calling for the assasination of President Bush, The Israel Cabinet, Politicians in Britain, Europe, and Australia, and not a word about Mugabe. Sorry, but you need to wake up to the reality.

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  16. PhilBest (5,125 comments) says:

    “How about we go to the UN and ask for an invasion”………..that wouldn’t be granted either. only “Coalitions of the Willing” comprising the few decent non-Socialist Democratic nations left in the world, would be a goer there.

    I know your heart is in the right place, PaulL, you need to look at the “Eye On The U.N.” Website regularly, and sign up for their free E-mail bulletins. “3-coil” commented recently on this blog after taking my advice and doing just that, that I was right, what the UN is up to is SICKENING……

    I personally think that “The Coalition of the Willing” should be the starting point of a new international organisation dedicated to doing exactly what you suggest – kicking out people like Mugabe, and Turabi in Sudan, and so on……..

    But emasculated Socialist dystopias like NZ with an ignorant population who think the UN is THE organisation, won’t be involved…….

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  17. PaulL (5,987 comments) says:

    Phil, the UN are a bunch of no hoper wasters. No argument from me there. Scary thing is that it also tells you that the world is full of no hoper wasters – we of the western liberal democratic tradition are well in the minority. Still, I would have thought that at needing an 80% vote, we’d have some chance. Ah well, I guess we’ll just need to set up a secret club of rich businessmen who spend their own money getting leaders they don’t like assassinated. Like we did with Kennedy.

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