Amnesty International today welcomes the news that survivors of indefinite detention in the Pacific region will soon become Kiwis. Nine years after the New Zealand Government said it would welcome up to 150 people per year trapped in the Australian Government’s offshore detention regime, the offer has been accepted.
The deal with New Zealand was confirmed ‘in principle’ in Australian Senate Estimates of Government expenditure. It was stated in Estimates that the agreement is currently with the New Zealand Cabinet for their final approval.
Meg de Ronde, Executive Director of Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand, said, "This is a very long and hard-earned human rights win. We’re relieved that for hundreds of people, the torture is nearly over and soon they will get to begin rebuilding their lives."
Amnesty International has supported the call for Australia to accept New Zealand’s offer since it was first made. In that time, the organisation also conducted research on both Nauru and Manus Island, documenting that the Australian Government’s indefinite detention of people seeking refuge amounts to torture under international law.
In 2017, Amnesty International New Zealand mobilised over 9000 people as part of the Build Hope campaign to end Australia’s offshore detention centres. Many notable New Zealanders have also called for the deliberate cruelty to stop, including rugby, league and boxing star Sonny Bill Williams, actor and director Sam Neill, and Aotearoa resident, author and journalist Behrouz Boochani, who was held for six years in the centres.
"I hope the stories of courageous, resilient people who, after years of limbo, may now rebuild their lives gets as much coverage as a tennis star visiting Australia.
"There were thousands of advocates here and around the world who pushed for this to happen. Sometimes injustice seems insurmountable. But tenacity and a commitment to humanity do bring us closer to a world based on aroha, equality and care," said de Ronde.
Mostafa (Moz) Azimitabar, who was held in both Papua New Guinea and then in the Park Hotel APOD in Melbourne where he was evacuated for medical care said:
"This is absolutely a historical moment in Australia. The power of people is stronger than politicians. The government couldn't resist this powerful pressure. Our consistency made this happen."
The deal could potentially be done within weeks.
"Now it’s time for the Australian and New Zealand Governments to get this done," said de Ronde.