Detained Kiwis signing away their rights, says lawyer

A leaked form purportedly given to detainees wishing to return to New Zealand reveals the immigration department will cancel the appeal upon their departure, contrary to what was previously stated.

Detained Kiwis signing away their rights, says lawyer
Detained Kiwis signing ‘Request for removal from Australia’ forms are waiving their rights to a guaranteed appeal.

New immigration laws brought into effect last December mean that non-citizens of Australia, including Kiwis, who have served a jail sentence of 12 months or more in Australia, could be deported.

The form, leaked to RNZ News, is purportedly given to detainees wanting to return home after months of detention.  Detainees are signing the form just to get out, leaving them at the mercy of Australia’s Immigration Department, said Greg Barns of the Australian Lawyers Alliance.

“There's a real oppression and sense of duress which accompanies the signing of this document,” Barns told the NZ radio station.

Contrary to the indications by both governments that anyone wanting to appeal from New Zealand against having their visa revoked would not be disadvantaged, the form asks detainees to sign away their right to appeal after leaving the country.  The form also shows that anyone removed from Australia has to pay for that process.

“What it seems to indicate is that you take a risk, if you continue with your visa application and go back to New Zealand you take a risk that the immigration department in Australia will discontinue your case because you won't be able to attend the proceedings,” Barns said.

“It's a very unusual clause, it's certainly contrary to what the New Zealand Prime Minister [John Key] has been saying is the case and that is that people wouldn't be penalised if they went to New Zealand. They're quite clearly penalised if they do return to New Zealand.

“This entire process has been very unfair from the start.”

Justice Minister Amy Adams and Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton did not respond to RNZ’s requests for comment.

“If I have outstanding visa applications, requests or legal proceedings, I understand that if I choose not to withdraw them, consideration of my claims by the department or relevant review bodies (including the courts) may be discontinued once I am removed from Australia,” the form says.

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