Boost in immigration efforts against terrorism

  • Lianne Dalziel

Improved immigration systems to screen out ‘risk’ travellers before they arrive in New Zealand are included in a counter-terrorism package announced by the government today.

“The new measures focus on checking the validity of travel documents of New Zealand-bound travellers, and are aimed at strengthening the NZ Immigration Service’s ability to manage irregular migration risks,” Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel said. The improved systems will cost over $2 million per annum.

“We are looking at the Advance Passenger Processing system, already adopted in Australia, to give the Immigration Service sufficient notice of New Zealand-bound passengers to enable early intervention if there are concerns.

“The Service will improve interdiction activities at various transit points. This will involve assisting airline staff to screen all passengers before boarding.

“The Service will also investigate instant fines for airlines. Once the Advance Passenger Processing system is in place, airlines will be able to carry out pre-boarding passenger checks. Where they fail to do so and where an irregular migrant travels to New Zealand without the appropriate documentation, we will look at an instant fine on the airline in addition to the existing provisions of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Convention,” Lianne Dalziel said.

Other immigration measures include:
·improving information sharing with overseas government agencies to enhance character and identity checks
·funding for continued use of Mangere Reception Centre as an alternative to imprisonment where security and/or identity issues arise, or to accommodate mass arrivals
·looking at community based accommodation options for refugee status claimants released from detention under conditions

“The Immigration Service’s job is to be facilitative, however, we must adopt a risk management approach to deal with irregular migration. These operational changes are designed to ensure that New Zealand’s relative vulnerability does not increase as like-minded countries enhance their security measures,” Lianne Dalziel said.