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A group of lawyers, activists and deportees from Christchurch just announced plans to launch a class action lawsuit in the Australian Federal Court to challenge the coalition government’s mass deportation of New Zealand residents, as well as those other nationalities.
Since then, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has overseen the tougher migration laws at the end of 2014, the Federal Coalition canceled the visas of at least 6,000 residents. The largest distinct cohort affected was that of New Zealanders, with about 2,300 having been deported.
This program has seen the “Australian Fortress” government condemned internationally for a deportation system that often sees long-term residents deported because of the commission. minor offenses, as well as an increasing proportion of risks to “health, safety or good order”.
Once again this week, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern criticized again the eviction program. She claims it is about Australia deporting ‘Australian criminals’ because sometimes Kiwis who have spent most of their lives in this country – meaning they were raised here – have been sent in New Zealand.
Following the October 26 class action announcement, those organizing the case were inundated with legal professionals and academics reaching out from around the world, asking how they can get involved and help support the case then. as awareness of the unjust agenda spreads.
“The class action lawsuit will concern those detained or deported under Section 501 since 2014, when the changes were made,” said Filipa Payne, co-founder of the Deportee Support Group. Route 501. “And that will also be for the people who have been detained under section 116.”
“The reason section 116 deportations are now part of the spectrum is that their path to detention is quite a precarious situation as far as the justice system is concerned,” she said. Sydney Criminal Lawyers.
While New Zealand citizens have been hit the hardest by Morrison’s deportation program, Payne points out that the class action suit will represent deportees and detainees of all nationalities affected by the 2014 changes, unless they withdraw. This includes those sent to Nauru under these laws.
The evicted persons rights lawyer further explained that at the moment her team is launching an official website with the details of the Route 501 class action Advocacy and support. And from there, the case will go to the Federal Court of Australia in about three weeks.
“We demand accountability for the human rights violations and the lack of dignity that take place in detention centers,” Payne said. “We call for the closure of Christmas Island and we oppose the policy of indefinite detention. “
Unethical and infringing on rights
Presented by current Prime Minister Scott Morrison in September 2014, the Modification of character and cancellation of general visa was part of a series of legislative changes that the Abbott government’s new immigration minister made at the time to the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) (the law).
The changes that most affected the expulsion regime were those made to the character grounds test in article 501 of the law. The test now sees non-nationals automatically deported for being sentenced to 12 months or more in prison.
The law is valid for any number of sentences taken together. This includes concurrent sentences or sentences involving drug addiction or mental health programs. So while the government maintains that it is all about dealing with serious criminal offenders, the laws cover much more.
Article 116 of the law contains a long list of grounds for visa cancellation, which include the presence of an individual being “or may be, or would or could be, a risk to the health, safety or good order of the community Australian ”. Payne says this section is increasingly coming into play.
As for our New Zealand residents, when the laws came into effect in December 2014, the Kiwis were not listed as one of the first nine nationalities held. But in December 2015, they were the second largest group. And in December 2016, the New Zealanders who were to be deported were number one.
The latest Home Affairs statistics show that in March of this year, New Zealanders continued to be the largest cohort detained in Australian immigration facilities on land.
The main demands that the 501 class action lawsuit will prioritize are that the Morrison government and security companies be held accountable for the treatment of “illegal non-citizens” they have locked up in immigration centers, often for the long term.
They also want to see a ruling regarding the illegality of unlimited detention. And another priority is to see the closure of the Christmas Island facility.
Those on board so far understand that financial compensation is unrealistic, so what they are really looking for is justice.
A lesser-known issue that Payne says will also be among the likely multiple actions is Australian banks closing the accounts of non-citizen detainees.
This means that not only are they denied access to their finances while in custody, but it is not possible to obtain these funds after arriving in a foreign country.
“They can’t get their money. Their personal income is taken away from them, ”Payne said. “The banks have started to do it. This is not only for New Zealanders, but also for other people who are being deported to other countries.
“I know someone who had over $ 70,000 in their bank account, which is now gone forever.”
Speaking at a press conference in Queenstown Monday, Morrison declared that the laws do not just target Kiwis but apply to all foreign residents. And one of the main reasons Australia has one of the most successful immigration policies on the planet is because it’s clear that it’s about breaking the law.
According to Payne, this deportation regime not only destroys lives, but it also damages Australia’s international reputation. She has contacted lawyers around the world since the action was announced, and two New Zealand universities have offered their services to mount the case.
“It is becoming more and more draconian and abusive. We have a government which, instead of tackling ongoing human rights violations, tries to further deny rights in the form of indefinite detention, ”she concluded.
“How can it be legal to detain someone for the rest of their life?” “
For those who would like to register as an applicant, you can contact Filipa Payne at this address [email protected]
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