AI Canada demonstrates in front of Australian embassy in Ottawa in 2016. Protestor holds sign reading

First people to arrive in Aotearoa New Zealand from Nauru an important first step to closing offshore detention

Amnesty International welcomes the news that six people have arrived in Aotearoa New Zealand after years in the Australian Government’s offshore detention regime.

In 2013, the New Zealand Government offered to resettle up to 150 people being held in the Australian detention system each year. This offer was finally accepted by the Australian Government in March 2022.

Amnesty International has conducted research in both Nauru and Papua New Guinea, highlighting that the indefinite detention of people seeking refuge amounts to torture under international law. Meanwhile, the Amnesty International community has tirelessly supported the call for the Australian Government to accept New Zealand’s offer.

Shaun Greaves, Executive Director at Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand, said, “This is a hard-earned win for human rights. Our heartfelt thanks go to the thousands of advocates around the world who pushed for this to happen, and to all those who have shared their lived experience of the dire conditions in Australia’s detention regime.

“Sometimes injustices seem insurmountable but standing together will bring us closer to a world based on aroha, equality and care.

Shaun Greaves, Executive Director at Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand

“The dire conditions experienced in offshore detention centres have caused serious mental and physical health issues for many people. The New Zealand Government must now do all that it can to support all those arriving in Aotearoa to settle into a flourishing life.”

Amnesty International Australia refugee rights advisor Dr Graham Thom said the resettlements were welcome, but that many more people lack a pathway to resettlement.

“We welcome the New Zealand Government taking a principled and humane approach to people who need protection. We hope this is the beginning of seeing everyone moved off Nauru. But we don’t want to forget the people in Papua New Guinea who Australia has washed its hands of, despite them being trapped there for nearly nine years.

“We hope that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR] and New Zealand working together will see permanent solutions for the people who remain in PNG.

“There are more than 200 people offshore still living in limbo whose physical and mental health needs are not being met.

Dr Graham, Amnesty International Australia’s refugee rights advisor

“The Prime Minister promised a ‘kinder, gentler approach’ to politics when he took office in May. Now’s his chance to live up to that and show compassion for people whose only crime was to ask for our help.”

The numbers of people in PNG are no longer published by the department, but there were 105 at the end of the arrangement between the Australian and PNG governments on December 31 2021.

Amnesty works to support refugees and asylum seekers. We challenge injustice by campaigning for the Australian government to raise the humanitarian intake, improve community sponsorship and end offshore detention. Learn more about our Refugee Rights campaign here.