By Samantha Semoso – EMTV Online
Following the deportation of a Kiribati climate change refugee, the Human Rights Commission wants the Government to increase the annual quota from the island nation.
New Zealand takes up to 75 citizens, including their partners and dependent citizens; from Kiribati each year under the Pacific Access Category (PAC) but the Race Relations Comissioner, Dame Susan Devoy, says it could be more.
“Increasing our PAC Kiribati quota is an immediate and real way we can show leadership, empathy and humanity as a developed Pacific nation,” Devoy said.
Her comments come after the deportation of Ioane Teitiota back to Kiribati after he failed in his bid to become the world’s first climate change refugee.
An overstayer, Teitiota had battled in the courts to be classed as a refugee because his family’s health would be at risk if they returned to Kiribati, which is endangered by rising sea levels.
Devoy said although the Teitiota case did not meet the legal requirement to be classified as a refugee the commission had concerns about the deportation.
“New Zealand may not have a legal responsibility but we have a moral and regional responsibility to support our Pacific cousins,” she said.
“Migration with dignity is something New Zealand can and should help with, said Devoy.