Saturday, December 4

Former minister denounces ‘montage’ to block immigration appeal of Chinese couple

An immigration decision against two suspected spies bears the stamp of a scam to deny them justice, according to a former immigration minister and attorney.

Flags of China and New Zealand

Flags of China and New Zealand
Photo: 123RF

Matt Robson is asking MPs to consider the Chinese couple’s case in a select committee, describing the decisions in their case as egregious and draconian.

The couple, who deny having ties to Chinese security services, cannot see the evidence on which the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) based its advice to immigration officials, who rejected their residency application.

An appeals court agreed with Immigration New Zealand (INZ) that it had no jurisdiction to hear the appeal. That decision applies in cases where applicants are “excluded” and, more importantly, where INZ does not use restricted national security information to make its decision.

Immigration attorney Matt Robson, who served as minister of courts in the Labor-Alliance government (1999-2002), said he believed agencies and ministers managed to make it impossible for the couple to respond to the allegations made. against you and file an appeal.

The case bears similarities to that of detained asylum seeker Ahmed Zaoui, he said.

“Everything screams in this decision that the court should have said, as it did in the Zaoui case, that we believe that they are lying to us and that there has been a set-up,” he said.

“In my experience, both as a lawyer, as a member of Parliament and as a minister, you clearly have the fingerprints of the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) which works with the ministry to ensure that it has a classification other than ‘classified’ so that it does not had to explain themselves.

“This decision is a very serious issue for New Zealanders: this person, because he comes from China, receives this denial of justice. The Bill of Rights tells us that before any court or court we must know what we have been accused of, and the full rights of natural justice apply to all. “

The SIS told INZ that the man and his wife “almost certainly” had assisted the Intelligence Services of the People’s Republic of China (PRCIS) and had deliberately concealed the amount of contact they had with PRCIS.

Their attorney said the decision was based on classified information and that SIS and INZ argued otherwise to prevent them from appealing.

The father-of-two said the only contact he had with PRCIS was from a previous job for a private company, where he helped the company’s foreign employees obtain visas to enter China for business purposes, a legitimate job requirement that ” not involve any form of espionage “.

The Immigration and Protection Court ruled that the immigration decision was based on its assessment that there was “reason to believe” that the appellant constituted a security threat or risk.

“This is a matter of judgment that must be made on the basis of the available evidence. The Law specifically prohibits the Court from hearing such appeals and evaluating the correctness or procedural fairness of such decisions.”

‘Circular arguments’

Robson does not represent the couple, but said the case sounded alarm bells and that he had spoken with his attorney about how the case had unfolded.

“Immigration sent a letter to the applicant to tell him that there is classified information,” Robson said. “Later they fall on themselves, so it’s registered with the Court, to show ‘oh no, that was a mistake’, they didn’t want to say that.

“The Immigration Law shows that if it is classified information, then the general lines of that, not all the details, should give the person a summary of exactly what they are basing their decision on so that they can challenge that.

“But if it is not decided that it is classified information, the person just becomes an excluded person and you do not have to justify it.”

The Immigration and Protection Court had accepted “circular arguments” from INZ, which is within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), that there was no classified information because it had decided not to call it classified, he said.

The Zaoui case showed SIS lied and fabricated material, he said, but the day’s appeals court called them in and the High Court ruled that classified information had to at least be summarized for one applicant.

“I’m sure the minister responsible for the Security Intelligence Service, which is Andrew Little, the immigration minister, has had a lot of meetings on this, and their officials will have had a lot of meetings to basically tell MBIE what they are doing.” I’m going to do, that’s what it seems to me from my experience.

“And this is an attempt to bypass the IPT or even the High Court in order to resolve this.

“The intelligence services are only overseen, not by a select parliamentary committee, but by the prime minister and some other so-called high-level parliamentarians. But the select committee of the Justice Committee could call the officials before them and study this. case, they should.

“Another thing worries me, and that is that at some point along the line it has been declared that China and New Zealand are enemies, that if you even talk to an agency in China, which in this case was the person responsible for applying for visas, that This is probably someone who will become an agent in New Zealand.

“Where is the proof of that? When do we decide that if you talk to the Chinese intelligence service you are a danger to New Zealand? Whereas if you are in the United States and you talk to the FBI or the CIA, [are you] Are you going to be an agent in New Zealand? Many questions about this, in particular, concern the issue of justice, which has been trampled on here. “

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