9 May 2013

Lawyer says Immigration NZ denying overstayers right to legal help

1:45 pm on 9 May 2013

A New Zealand immigration lawyer says overstayers are being denied access to lawyers and interpreters when they're arrested to be deported.

The director of Pacific Legal, Richard Small, has laid complaints with the New Zealand Ombudsman over the treatment of two Tongan men arrested in the North Island city of Gisborne.

Mr Small says they're just the latest examples of Immigration New Zealand ignoring requests for a lawyer and interpreter for an overstayer's final interview to plead their case to stay.

"The really important safeguard in the process is the record of personal circumstances interview. That is the last chance saloon before deportation. Issues of abuse, risk, harm to New Zealand parties are simply not being aired at these interviews because people are being rushed through them without interpreters and without access to lawyers."

Richard Small says that's unfair and a breach of the Immigration Act and Bill of Rights.

Immigration New Zealand says it's satisfied staff did everything required to enable the men to get access to legal advice.