New Zealander under 18 held in Australian immigration detention facility


An Australian immigration lawyer says the locking up of a New Zealand boy in an immigration centre is a new low for his country.

A Kiwi male aged under 18 being held in a Melbourne immigration detention facility is receiving help from New Zealand consular officials.

Police Minister Stuart Nash said that while the Government did not usually comment on individual cases, he could confirm the young person was receiving consular assistance.

“We understand that the young person shares a bedroom with another young person, but mixes with adults in the low-security detention facility over the course of the day,” Nash said.

Maribyrnong detention centre.

Maribyrnong detention centre.

Australian immigration officials were expected to ensure their actions were consistent with Australian domestic law and their responsibilities under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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“In particular, we would expect any decision on the young person to be guided by an independent assessment of the best interests of the child,” Nash said.

Police had no reason to believe deportation was imminent. Along with Oranga Tamariki, the Ministry for Children, police were prepared to respond to any deportation of a young person, were that to happen.

The Government had expressed concern to the Australian government about visa cancellation provisions being applied to young people.

Radio New Zealand reported the young New Zealander was being held with another young person aged 16 or 17.

It quoted Australian lawyer Greg Barns, who has represented immigration detainees, saying holding the young New Zealander in the facility was a breach of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Australia was a signatory.

The young detainee would not have any of the psychological supports necessary when dealing with young people, Barns said.

Australian Department of Home Affairs data confirms there was a New Zealand male aged under 18 being held in a detention facility at the end of March.

He was among 199 New Zealanders being held in immigration detention facilities.

New Zealanders were the largest single nationality among the 1389 detainees, followed by Sri Lankans, Vietnamese and Iranians.

* Audio courtesy of Radio NZ

 – Stuff