24 Sep 2014

'Honour killing targets' fled to NZ

11:29 am on 24 September 2014

A couple who say they were targeted for an honour killing after fleeing to marry in New Zealand faced deportation after their application for asylum was turned down.

The man has now won his appeal, and his wife is awaiting a hearing to ensure that she can also stay.

Read the tribunal's full decision

The man said he was at risk of being killed or serious harm if returned to India because he was subjected to an honour killing for marrying in breach of traditional Hindu practices, as the couple are second cousins.

The woman's family had arranged for her to marry another man, and it was at that point that she escaped to New Zealand and married the man she had been seeing and texting secretly since 2006. He had fled to New Zealand after being assaulted at a family wedding in 2009.

The immigration and protection tribunal was told the wife's immediate and wider family are politically connected to the Shiv Sena, a traditionalist and pro-Hindu party, and in the past the Indian police have been complicit in tracking down couples in forbidden relationships.

The tribunal ruled that while there is a measure of anonymity in a large city if they returned to India, it would be relatively easy and straightforward for their families to put a missing notice in the newspaper seeking information as to their whereabouts or use their connection with Shiv Sena to bribe police or local officials into divulging their whereabouts.

The woman says her family will not let the matter rest. They might not locate and kill them for a while but, eventually, it would happen.

She says they would put up a 'wanted' notice with a large reward which would eventually reveal their whereabouts.

The woman says her father and her brother, who are strong believers in Hindu tradition and customs surrounding marriage, will feel it necessary to assuage their honour by killing the appellant and his wife.

Ambike Kohli of the Shakti ethnic women's refuge organisation said if the woman went back she would be killed.

"Both of them went against the folklore traditions ... so it's a risk for both of them."

She told Morning Report there was no guarantee the couple was safe in New Zealand either, as their family may have links with local members of the Punjabi community.