MIQ: I am of the opinion that not allowing citizens & residents back into NZ is illegal as it is a breach of their civil

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Customer: MIQ: I am of the opinion that not allowing citizens & residents back into NZ is illegal as it is a breach of their civil rights. How do I take this further?
JA: Have you talked to a New Zealand lawyer about this?
Customer: No, this is an initial exploration of the concept.
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: I have contacted two government ministers, both of whom have professed sympathy and understanding but no assistance to changing MIQ and it's broken booking system.
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: That this is personal: my son was in Cambodia and couldn't get from there to New Zealand. He therefore went to Germany and is now stuck there on a very very limited income, assisted by the bank of mum.
Answered by Chris The Lawyer in 1 hour 1 year ago
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

Hi My name is ***** ***** I am a New Zealand lawyer based in Wellingtonwith more than 42 years of experience. I am here to help with your questions.

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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

Is the reason he cannot return because there are no MIQ places for him?

Customer
Hi Chris. Yes, there are no spaces in MIQ, and there have been none for months. There are multiple news articles in this regard, with one journalist refreshing the search page a reported 10 000 times in one week with no luck in securing a place. I and others have suggested to MBIE that they start a waiting list. I have also suggested that as these citizens and residents cannot return due to the lack of space in MIQ, that they are given a stipend for living each month - they are suffering hardship, cannot return and have no alternative solutions to to limitations of work visas. I believe that this is a social injustice and an abrogation of civil rights.
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

It is certainly unfair but there is no civil rights issue which would be available to use as a legal remedy. You would need to identify a principle of law which says that citizens overseas should be financially supported. There can be some support from the New Zealand Embassy but not financial support

Customer
The reason I raised the query was not with regard to a stipend - though I believe that would be a fair move - the reason I raise this is the issue around a citizen's right to return home, to their country of citizenship. Presently, those overseas cannot return without a place booked in MIQ. Their right to return should not be tied to a governments need to stop a viral outbreak. The two are disparate issues. This is where the civil rights issue comes in. According to the United Nations, a citizen has the right to return to their country of citizenship. The Australians repatriate criminals to NZ. The woman that was in Turkey was accepted for repatriation to NZ as a citizen.
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

There is a balance between the right to return home, and the need to protect from possible Covid infections. That becomes a political issue rather than a legal issue. It does not matter if he has a right to return home, which he does, if there is no MIQ placement available. The decisions about the number of places are a political and policy issue. There would not be a civil right to provide MIQ

Customer
Then, all of these displaced citizens should have the right to return home - and be housed in a camp until there is a place available in MIQ. Please understand it appears that everyone apart from NZ residents and citizens overseas gets a first dibbs at a place in MIQ. Be a sports person, go to Australia, evacuate from the middle east, or have $2800 to arrange a place through a third party algorithm for a placement in MIQ. There are thousands of NZ residents in strife overseas, unable to get home and unsupported by our government. I believe that there may be a case for class action to force the government to be more proactive like having a waiting list, like support to those unable to work overseas, like medical assistance overseas. Many political decisions are first legal issues - does the government have the legal right to take these actions? As I say, I believe that these are two separate issues - one of the right to return and the second of public health. They should not be linked apart from the need to walk through an arrivals hall.
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

You could bring a judicial review case in the High Court or possibly appeal to the Ombudsman

Customer
There's an idea - would you have the address of the ombudsman?
Customer
Thank you - I'll try that. It's been a frustrating few months - especially for those in less than ideal living conditions overseas.
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

The ombudsman is a free service which may help

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