Suggestions that Kiwi offenders deported from Australia were handcuffed for the entire flight to New Zealand will be looked into by government officials.
19 November 2015 – Sam Sachdeva (stuff.co.nz)
Reports that Kiwi deportees were in handcuffs for an entire flight from Australia have been slammed by a politician as an attack on their human rights.
A group of 12 detainees from Christmas Island arrived at Auckland International Airport on a charter flight on Thursday morning, with eight of them placed on supervision orders under a new monitoring regime.
Police and Corrections met the offenders on arrival to put them through a rigorous processing and induction process.
Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox says she is concerned about a lack of communication between authorities and the families of offenders being returned from Australia to New Zealand.
The offenders were spotted coming off the plane in handcuffs, and there have been suggestions they were handcuffed for the duration of the flight from Australia.
Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox said it was inappropriate to handcuff the deportees, as they had already served their time in Australia.
“If they had been released out of a [New Zealand] prison they would be walking out the door, free, with a bag under their arm, into the community.
“Now they’re coming home on a plane, shackled – if that’s correct, to me that is just further diminishing their mana, their self-esteem, their human rights.”
Fox said she also had concerned about a lack of communication between authorities and the families of those who had returned.
“They asked me, ‘Are they on the plane? We don’t know, we don’t know if they’ve just left, we can’t contact them anymore’.
“There’s no information going back to families to have them prepare to meet their loved ones – they want to be able to support them to get back into society which is what we want, but there was no information going back or forward.”
Fox said she had spoken to Justice Minister Amy Adams about the matter to ensure there were improvements.
Adams said she pointed out that while agencies were aware of the detainees’ arrival, they did not know who their New Zealand family members might be “and therefore won’t know who to contact until they speak with the people returning on their arrival”.
“I arranged for her to send family contacts she’d received direct to Corrections who undertook to assist as they could.”
Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga said the Australian authorities were responsible for the decision to handcuff the deportees.
“I didn’t see it, so it’s not for me to comment at this point about how they came out, but the Australian authorities did what they had to do to secure the plane.”
Lotu-Iiga said “someone” would discuss the handcuffing with Australian officials to assess whether it was appropriate.
He was satisfied that Corrections staff waiting for the detainees had conducted themselves in an appropriate manner when dealing with them.
A spokeswoman for Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection said: “The detainees travelled on a charter flight accompanied by security officers. Restraints are used where appropriate for the safety and security of detainees, staff and the aircraft.”
[Read the Stuff article].