Ōtaki MP Nathan Guy is under fire for violating fundamental human rights in a long-running campaign by Amnesty International against the National Government’s plan for mass detentions of asylum seekers.
Amnesty NZ said today that so far 1530 people have sent letters to MPs through its website to protest about a new law backed by Mr Guy as Immigration Minister.
Earlier this year Mr Guy introduced changes that will provide the power of mass detention of groups of asylum seekers arriving in New Zealand by boat.
In spite of media publicity and appeals from the public, Mr Guy has refused to change his stance on changes to the Immigration Act, which Amnesty says risk breaching New Zealand’s obligations under the United Nations Refugee Convention.
These include the right to be free of arbitrary detention and from discrimination.
Amnesty, which is known and respected worldwide for its defence of individual freedoms, says the NZ law fails to respect the family unit, and access to justice.
It says: “This is a deeply concerning trend that ignores the violent and terrifying situations from which asylum seekers are fleeing. Situations that most of us here in New Zealand can not even fathom.
“Punishing asylum seekers based on how they arrive – in a group more than 10 – will not deter people smugglers, nor will mass detention mean efficient processing.
“Rather, as the Australian experience has highlighted, it further victimises already vulnerable people, slows down processes, and costs more.”
Amnesty NZ says New Zealanders must demand better from its Government and asks citizens to join it in telling MPs the Government’s Mass Arrival Bill does not represent them.
It adds: “At times like these we are challenged to stand up and come together in support of some of the world’s most vulnerable people, to show our leaders that compassion for asylum seekers in New Zealand is a thing we value.”
Readers wanting to join the campaign can use this link to contact Amnesty: http://www.amnesty.org.nz/get-involved/take-action-online/detention-of-asylum-seekers-270812