Australia’s deportation of 15-year-old boy ‘heartbreaking’, says Green MP

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Golriz Ghahraman
Green Party foreign affairs spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman ... "Australia is actually behaving like a rogue state". Image:

RNZ News

Australia is facing condemnation from National and Green Party MPs over the deportation of a 15-year-old boy to New Zealand.

Little detail has been made public about the teen other than that he is being held in a quarantine facility and is receiving support from Oranga Tamariki.

The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has asked for more details.

“I do want to go back and look at the circumstances under which this deportation happened, because we do want to make sure particularly when we are looking at young people that is being dealt with appropriately, regardless of the circumstances of their deportation,” she said.

National’s foreign affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee wanted to know more details of the case but said on the face of it the deportation sounded “pretty appalling”.

“If the young child has family support here that is stronger than in Australia that might be understandable, but if it is just a case of ‘here is an offender, we want him out’ and so he is off on the next plane to New Zealand, that is a different matter,” he said.

Actions ‘put alliance in jeopardy’
Green Party foreign affairs spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman said the deportation was both outrageous and heartbreaking.

Ghahraman said Australia’s actions had put the trans-Tasman alliance in jeopardy.

“They need to know they are now damaging their relationship with us, that being a traditional ally and trading partner doesn’t mean that we will continue to be an ally and partner to them as they treat us with absolute disdain in this way.”

Ghahraman told RNZ Morning Report Australia was “absolutely an outlier” in deporting the teenager.

“It’s not something that nations who do have a rule of law and a commitment to human rights are doing.

“It is time for all what we call like-minded nations to recognise that Australia is actually behaving like a rogue nation, as we call countries who very consistently flout human rights laws, and raise this in our international forums, have our allies join together with us to condemn this and put pressure on Australia to start behaving like a good global citizen.”

Australia’s Department of Home Affairs said it could not comment on individual cases but in a statement it said its government takes it responsibility to protect the community seriously.

Visa cancellation conditions
“A non-citizen’s visa must be cancelled if they are serving a full-time term of imprisonment for an offence committed in Australia and they have, at any time, been sentenced to a period of 12 months or more imprisonment, regardless of their age or nationality.”

It said the department approached visa cancellation of minors with a high degree of caution and consultation.

“The Department complies with its legal obligations in circumstances where the removal of a minor is considered, including those under the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” it said.

Co-ordinator of the Iwi n Aus advocacy group Filipa Payne said this was the youngest deportation case she had heard of, but was not the first time Australia has detained a teenager for deportation.

“I do know of people who have been in detention centre in Australia since they were 17.

“Currently there is a boy there that is 20 years old and he has been in detention for two-and-a-half years,” she said.

Payne said deportees experienced trauma and abuse while awaiting deportation, without any human rights.

She said she was very concerned about the teenager’s mental wellbeing, given that this was an overwhelming situation for a young person.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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