Despite the fact that New Zealand’s Government has lifted the temporary travel restriction from India for New Zealand citizens, the new ‘very high risk’ travel category that the country has introduced, which places a ban on travellers from India, Papua New Guinea, Brazil and Pakistan unless they are New Zealand citizens, or partners, parents and children of New Zealand citizens, still excludes permanent residents. And this is an issue that the Human Rights Commission has picked up on.
“The Government has an obligation to provide ongoing justification for why permanent residents are being prevented from re-entering New Zealand from these countries, and how this decision will be regularly reviewed,” Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt said.
He continued: “It may be lawful that such measures can be taken to restrict permanent residents’ ability to travel home if it is proportionate to the public health risk, however, we call for ongoing transparency around the justification for this change and the numbers of people who continue to be affected.
“While acknowledging the importance of keeping New Zealand borders safe and protecting front line staff, the Government also has international law obligations to permanent residents for whom New Zealand is their home.”
Assisting permanent residents in their return back to NZ
Hunt said that the Human Rights Commission urged the Government to assist New Zealanders in ‘very high risk’ countries to be repatriated back to New Zealand, for example via chartered flights, managed isolation and quarantine spots for those affected by these recent restrictions.
He added: “It should not be assumed that all New Zealand citizens and permanent residents, who are now urgently seeking to return home, left New Zealand after the pandemic emerged. Moreover, many of those who left New Zealand after the pandemic became widespread only did so for compelling and upsetting family reasons.”
In other news, New Zealand has announced that it plans to consolidate its health system into a single body called Health New Zealand.