New Zealand: Self-Declared Climate Refugee Faces Deportation

  • Date: 12/05/14
  • ABC News

A man from Kiribati, whose home in South Tarawa is threatened by rising sea levels, has lost what is possibly his final bid to live in New Zealand as a refugee.

Ioane Teitiota, 37, lost his Court of Appeal case against a tribunal decision refusing him refugee status in New Zealand.

Mr Teitiota has been living in New Zealand with his wife and New Zealand-born children since 2007.

He did not want to return home to South Tarawa when his work visa expired in 2010 because of the combined pressures of over-population and rising sea-levels.

The latest decision means he, together with his wife and children, are likely to be deported.

In its ruling, the court found Mr Teitiota’s case was “fundamentally misconceived”.

His lawyer, Michael Kidd, said the case was essentially about the court’s interpretation of the UN definition of a refugee.

“The issue really is what the definition of persecution is,” Mr Kidd told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat.

“Our point right through has been that there is ‘passive persecution’ from the inability of the Kiribati government to protect the right to life of Mr Teitiota and his children.”

Mr Kidd has not ruled out appealing the decision to New Zealand’s Supreme Court.

If that fails, he says, they may consider taking the case to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva.

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