10 May 2013

Halt to deportation sought

4:17 pm on 10 May 2013

Immigration New Zealand says it will happily fight any injunction to stop it deporting four Tongan men at the centre of claims they have been denied access to lawyers and interpreters.

Gisborne police are holding them in custody, ready for deportation, after their visas expired several years ago.

However, Gisborne councillor Manu Caddie says the deportation needs to be stopped until claims that their human and legal rights have been abused are investigated.

Immigration New Zealand's fraud and compliance manager Peter Elms is confident that the men have all had access to lawyers.

Mr Elms says if someone has enough evidence of wrongdoing to file an injunction they can do so, but he is confident the department has a strong case.

The men are expected to be put on the next available flight back to Tonga.

Manu Caddie said the case highlights the need to better inform seasonal immigrant workers about their legal rights.

It is thought 2500 Tongan people are living in Gisborne doing forestry and seasonal work.

Wellington firm Pacific Legal has already laid complaints about Immigration New Zealand to the Ombudsman regarding the arrests.