Two Tongan overstayer in-laws remanded in custody for deportation

    A Tongan woman, 20, and her brother-in-law, 26, among five people arrested last month in Gisborne for overstaying New Zealand visas have been remanded in custody for deportation.

    Four men and a woman were arrested on April 15 during a targeted operation by police and Immigration NZ.

    The others are of Indian descent and are aged 22, 23, and 27.

    The five appeared together in Gisborne District Court and were represented by duty solicitor Mana Taumaunu, Gisborne Herald has reported.

    Judge Charles Blackie, who presided here last week, remanded each of the group to a prison facility for up to 28 days. Their cases will be reviewed on May 10.

    All but the Tongan male consented to the custodial remand.

    His bail was opposed by Immigration NZ prosecutor Christopher Gullidge, who said the man had overstayed his visa by 13 months and, when found, gave a false name. There was a risk he might abscond again.

    The judge directed media not to name the five, citing legal reasons including the potential in some cases for overstayers to apply for refugee status.

    Immigration NZ assistant general manager Pete Devoy told the Gisborne Herald the 28-day time frame was standard. It allowed INZ time to obtain an individual’s passport, arrange a flight, organise a police escort and get the necessary clearances and approval from airlines for the detainee to be returned home.

    Deportation usually occurred well within the 28 days but sometimes further time was required for which another court appearance was necessary.

    In some cases, people caught overstaying their visas can remain in the community on reporting conditions before leaving the country on an agreed date.

    Deportation is usually imminent, unless cancelled by Immigration NZ due to international obligations.

    Asked about the cost of deporting overstayers, Mr Devoy gave no details but said it depended on a number of circumstances.

    National media last year cited a case in which an overstayer was returned to Zambia at a cost of $47,542, of which $43,000 was for costs involved in escorting him.


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