Immigration NZ attempted to deport Auckland terrorist

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Sep 04, 2021 |

The lifting of final suppression orders tonight relating to the Auckland terrorist shows Immigration New Zealand had been attempting for years to deport him and sought to detain him while deportation was considered in order to keep him out of the community.

“He arrived in New Zealand in October 2011. He was 22 years old and travelling on a student visa,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“Shortly after arriving he made a claim for refugee status. Immigration New Zealand declined this claim in 2012, but he appealed to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal and was successful. He was granted refugee status in December 2013.”

He claimed he and his family were persecuted by Sri Lankan authorities, and he and his father were attacked, kidnapped and tortured because of their political background.

A clinical psychologist’s report said “dealing with his stated history of torture, he presented as a highly distressed and damaged young man who meets the criteria for a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. In her view there is “strong evidence” of the appellant persistently re-experiencing traumatic events.

She said he met the criteria for a diagnosis of “major depressive episode” and said his acute experience of trauma, alleged torture, separation from his family, ongoing fears for his parents’ safety, the refugee claims process and the lack of certainty about his future triggered severe symptoms.

She said, “a primary trigger for him becoming overwhelmed during the interviews was discussion of his father and in particular the need to recount memories of the torture that involved himself being tortured in front of his father and his father’s responses to this, or listening to his father’s responses to being beaten while they were separated.”

Jacinda Ardern said in a statement tonight “In 2016 the terrorist came to the attention of the police and the NZSIS.”

“In the course of these investigations, Immigration New Zealand were made aware of information that led them to believe the individual’s refugee status was fraudulently obtained. The process was started to cancel his refugee status, and with it, his right to stay in New Zealand.”

“In February of 2019, Immigration New Zealand cancelled his refugee status.”

He was served with deportation liability notices. In April, he appealed against his deportation to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal.”

He was still in prison at this time, and facing criminal charges. For a number of reasons, the deportation appeal could not proceed until after the conclusion of the criminal trial in May 2021.

“In the meantime, agencies were concerned about the risk this individual posed to the community. They also knew he may be released from prison, and that his appeal through the Tribunal, which was stopping his deportation, may take some time

“Immigration New Zealand explored whether the Immigration Act might allow them to detain the individual while his deportation appeal was heard. 

“It was incredibly disappointing and frustrating when legal advice came back to say this wasn’t an option. 

“A person can only be detained under the Immigration Act for the purpose of deportation. Immigration New Zealand was required to consider whether deportation was likely to proceed. That meant making an assessment of what the tribunal would likely find. Crown laws advice to immigration New Zealand was that the individual was likely to be considered a “protected person” because of the status of the country from which he had travelled, and likely treatment on return. Protected people cannot be deported from New Zealand. After receiving this advice Immigration New Zealand determined they could not detain the individual while he waited for his appeal. 

“Soon after, he was released from prison, and police began their monitoring and surveillance of him 

“On the 26th of August, the Immigration and Protection Tribunal hearing was rescheduled. At the time of the terrorist attack, the offenders attempt to overturn the deportation decision was still ongoing. 

“This has been a frustrating process. 

“Since 2018 Ministers have been seeking advice on our ability to deport this individual. 

“In July this year I met with officials in person and expressed my concern that the law could allow someone to remain here who obtained their immigration status fraudulently and posed a threat to our national security. I asked for work to be undertaken to look at whether we should amend our law, in the context of our international obligations.  

“Ultimately these timelines show that Immigration New Zealand from the beginning have sought to deport this individual, and were right to do so.” Jacinda Ardern said

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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