Asylum seekers can now be detained for six months
Amnesty International has condemned the introduction of new legislation in New Zealand that will mean groups of asylum seekers can be detained for as long as six months. The Immigration Act has been updated to allow the authorities to detain groups of more than 30 asylum seekers for six months.
Currently the law states that any asylum seeker recognised as a refugee will not be eligible to apply for citizenship for at least three years. After this time the asylum seeker can apply to have their status reassessed.
According to Michael Woodhouse, New Zealand’s immigration minister, the new rules will allow the authorities to better deal with asylum seekers. He added that the regulations are also meant as a deterrent for people smugglers targeting the islands.
The Labour Party claims that the government is using the concerns surrounding the subject of immigration to cover up a number of recent scandals.
Amnesty International has accused the authorities of breaching refugee conventions and human rights, something the government has strongly denied. Mr Woodhouse said it was only a matter of time before a boat carrying a large number of asylum seekers docks at a New Zealand port.
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