Immigration decision sent a man to his death
People are at the heart of a society, country, continent, and the world.
Each country has its own ethos, rules and regulations, the do and the don’ts, determining whom it wants.
The New Zealand style of Parliament and Government is largely based on the Westminster system. As in the case of other democracies, people elect lawmakers to represent their interests and needs. It is about serving the people and making decisions in their best interests. Under this system, decisions are made not only about people within this boundary but also about those who are keen to come and live within this boundary.
Good decision-making can arise only if the correct intentions exist; to serve the people either as a political representative or as a decision-maker. Serving people does not mean only those that have a legal right to be in this country but also those that are in need due to circumstances that are beyond their control.
We have therefore evolved our refugee policy, endorsed international treaties, and granted absolute discretion to the Associate Minister of Immigration to take decision and provide a humanitarian response on a case-by-case basis.
Human existence and life trumps all. If this were endangered, there would be an obligation to give an appropriate response, irrespective of boundaries. As the stakes are high, appropriate measures should be adopted accompanied by vigilance.
A bad decision based on shoddy research and reliance on country information may not relate specifically to the case on hand. This would result in a kneejerk reaction, applying a result, based on flawed information as opposed to responding to the case on hand.
Sanil Kumar of Fiji (who suffered from kidney failure) became a victim of such an approach. He was a young man with great potential and skills that New Zealand needed. He had the support of his family and the community, and a donor.
Labour MP Dr Rajen Prasad campaigned for his cause after the previous Ministerial representations failed. Yet it did not alter the decision of either Immigration New Zealand or (INZ) the Minister to issue him a visa to undergo medical treatment here.
Sanil was forced to leave the country; he returned to his native Fiji where he died.
The system failed the young man. If this case did not require a humanitarian response, I fail to see which other case would do so. My condolences go to the family.
It is common knowledge that Dengue fever is currently rampant in Fiji, with likely infection that can be fatal. Fiji newspapers have been reporting this and hence it was wrong to ask Sanil to leave New Zealand. He died of infection.
What a waste! This decision of INZ to ask Sanil to leave New Zealand and that of the Associate Immigration Minister not to intervene does not make sense. There are many more cases with a similar thread where no reasonable person would have made such a decision, knowing the circumstances.
This case has highlighted the following issues.
Are representations really being taken on board? What is going wrong? Are we forgetting that it is about human beings? Are we being consumed by processes, systems, boxes, reports, and other irrelevant factors that we miss what is so apparent to the common people? What does People’s Parliament say? Has our system failed us?
Did a compassionate response not enter the balancing act? Was this decision a show of power? Are there valid justifications for the decision?
Whatever it was, this decision has meant loss of a human life.
It is a legacy that will touch the conscience of decision makers; they have to live with it the rest of their lives.
Sanil Kumar will not return. His death has highlighted the need for prudence, vigilance and a responsible response as the other side of power is after all responsibility to the people.