No consideration for six-year old rape victim
To all my many friends and clients in the Indian community throughout New Zealand, it is with great sadness and profound disappointment that I find myself forced into getting into a huge fight with the Minister of Immigration, Michael Woodhouse.
However, I have never been one to sit back and do nothing when I can see a monumental wrong being done, especially when I realise I am perhaps the only one who has the knowledge and background to take up the fight.
My client is a little six-year old girl of Fiji-Indian heritage, who was sexually violated four times by a 15 year old Tongan boy.
She was deported because she was an over-stayer.
But, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) knew that she was entitled to residence status because her father was a New Zealand permanent resident, and has been since 1990.
The father did not know that his daughter was entitled to New Zealand residence status.
INZ did not tell him about his daughter’s eligibility for residence.
The mother was unable to gain residence status because her husband was an ineligible sponsor. On this issue, INZ was correct and hence ordered mother and daughter to be deported.
An appeal against their deportation was made to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal (IPT). In appeals against deportation, the Tribunal is required to consider the humanitarian circumstances of the persons being deported.
In his decision, IPT Member Peter Fuiava found that neither the mother nor the daughter had any humanitarian circumstances and he ordered their deportation.
After losing their appeal, a last minute plea was made to Associate Minister of Immigration Craig Foss who delegated the response decision to senior immigration manager, Steve Cantlon.
Mr Cantlon said he reviewed the file and found no reason to intervene.
He perhaps thought that being entitled to residence and being sexually violated four times when she was six years old was not a reason to intervene.
The mother, the young rape victim and two younger New Zealand citizens are now living in poverty in Fiji. The father who suffered a stroke a number of years ago was unable to look after the two younger children as well as still work to earn money to send to his wife.
The Victim: Six year-old female, sexually violated four times
Immigration Status: Entitled to Residence in New Zealand
The perpetrator: A 15 year old male Tongan pleaded guilty in Youth Court
Did victim get counselling help? No, she was deported instead
Did the perpetrator get counselling? Yes
Victim’s father: Permanent Resident in New Zealand for 25 years
Victim’s Siblings: New Zealand Citizens
Victim’s Mother: Over-stayer; deported to Fiji
Ruling of Peter Fuiava, Member, Immigration and Protection Tribunal
There were no humanitarian circumstances to allow the victim to stay in New Zealand
The sexual violations against the six-year old victim were only minor
The need for counselling for the victim was rejected as a humanitarian circumstance
Being the daughter of a New Zealand resident and entitled to residence meant nothing
The Ruling: Victim should be deported
Decision of INZ Manager Steve Cantlon
After reviewing Mr Fuiava’s decision, Mr Cantlon believed that everything was in order and hence the victim should be deported.
One can only conclude that Immigration New Zealand considers that (a) Multiple sexual violations against a six-year old girl can be considered minor (b) Multiple sexual violations against a six-year old girl are not a humanitarian circumstance (c) Multiple sexual violations, residency entitlement, being six years old is not sufficient to stop deportation (d) Multiple sexual violations, being six-years old, do not warrant counselling for the victim
To my call for an apology, Mr Woodhouse said, “Mr Delamere is well aware of the process that was followed and knows that an apology is neither necessary nor appropriate in these circumstances.”
In response, I say this to Minister Woodhouse:
I know of no government process that supports the deportation of a six-year-old sexual violence victim who is entitled to residence. What has this little girl done to you to deserve such treatment?
Our Government has no right to criticise the human rights record of any other country when it allows a six-year old sexual violence victim, who is entitled to residence, to be deported.
Our Immigration Department knew that this little girl qualified for residence through her father.
That little girl needed protection. Neither she nor the children of New Zealand need a Minister who thinks that Mr Fuiava’s decision can be supported.
Our children, our most precious resource, do not deserve an elected representative who has such moral standards.
Who are you trying to protect Minister? And why are you trying to protect them?
Tuariki Delamere is a former Minister of Immigration and the Principal Consultant of TDA Immigration and Student Services Limited.