Dispute over refugee's age settled

2:25 pm on 28 June 2016

Immigration New Zealand has settled a case involving confusion over an Ethiopian refugee's real date of birth.

Passport visa (file photo).

Photo: 123rf

The case was due to be heard in the Human Rights Review Tribunal after the Privacy Commissioner last year upheld a complaint by the man, who said immigration officials had refused to correct his date of birth.

The case was referred to the Director of Human Rights Proceedings.

In a joint statement released today, the director and Immigration New Zealand said they had settled the case on a confidential basis.

Immigration New Zealand acknowledged it had breached the Privacy Act and said it was working on a policy for dealing with requests to amend personal information, including the evidence required to amend a date of birth.

The man - who was an orphan - arrived in New Zealand in 2011 with incorrect information on his travel documents.

A bone density scan and dental examination two years later indicated he was possibly as old as 18, although his date of birth suggested he was 13.

The man asked Immigration New Zealand to change his year of birth from early 2000 to 1996 but it refused, and added a note to his file instead.

Barrister Simon Judd, who acted for the Director of Human Rights Proceedings in relation to the Privacy Act complaint, said the man could not access entitlements such as a driver's licence and StudyLink.

The Privacy Commissioner's case notes can be found here.