Two Tongan overstayers claimed being refused access to legal help

New Zealand immigration service needs review after two Tongan overstayers were found to be denied access to legal assistance and interpreters said a Gisborne Councillor Manu Caddie.

The incident came to light after the Pacific Legal law firm heard from the two Tongans of how they were treated during their detention by immigration officers and it eventually launched a complaint with the ombudsman.

Peter Elms, the Immigration New Zealand Manager Fraud and Compliance told Kaniva News in February that “Immigration New Zealand can confirm that as a result of enquiries in the Gisborne area, four Tongan nationals were taken into custody to arrange their departure from New Zealand,”

An outburst of anger poured into the Tongan  social media networks at the time following rumours that the arrests were prompted by allegedly reports of the overstayers to Immigration by their own  immediate families.

Last year a change to the Immigration law came into effect which it gives the immigration officers power to arrest and detain overstayers for deportation.

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