Deportations will achieve little except to help big countries hide from their responsibilities
The policy of deporting criminals who have barely any connection with the kingdom to Tonga is cruel, cowardly and highly dangerous.
The latest person to face deportation from Australia is Sedeli Huakau Taualii, 44, who left Tonga as a 20 month old infant in 1976.
He may have little memory of the islands. He is, to all intents and purposes, an Australian. Whether he has any relatives left in Tonga who would take him in or whether he speaks Tongan or knows anything of Tongan culture is not known.
As Kaniva News reported on Friday, he had a visa, but this was cancelled in 2016 after he was jailed for six years for armed robbery. He has been a member of a number of violent bikie gangs notorious for their involvement in drugs and crime.
Section 501 of the Australian Migration Act allows the government to deport people who fail character tests.
Nobody can say that Taualii will do anything but lead a respectable, reformed life in Tonga.
However, all the evidence says that criminals deported to Tonga from Australia, New Zealand and the United States have an extremely hard time fitting in and have contributed to the explosion of drug-related crime.
Between 2014-2019, 400 people with criminal records were deported from New Zealand to the Pacific islands.
Massey University researcher Jose Luis Sousa-Santos told Newsroom it was “irresponsible” of New Zealand to deport young people who had lived in New Zealand most of their life, and expect them to reintegrate.
The same situation has occurred in New Zealand to which many bikies have been deported from Australia.
New Zealand police have reported an increase in violent gang-related crime
New Zealand Police Association president Chris Cahill said many of the bikies sent to New Zealand had spent their lives in Australia and had few ties to the country.
“The only links they’ve got (here) are straight back into gangs. The public are now seeing the problems they’re causing,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has called Australia’s deportation policy “a festering sore” and said New Zealand taxpayers should not be expected to pay for keeping criminals in the country.
Tongan taxpayers doubtless feel the same way.
Deporting criminals who have almost no knowledge of the islands to which they are being sent is simply cruel. If they don’t know the culture or the language there is little hope of rehabilitation and so sending them to Tonga is pointless.
All deportations do is to allow Australia – and New Zealand and the United States, for that matter – to polish up their crime statistics while dumping the problem on countries least equipped to deal with it.
Years of intelligence work by international police forces show that the Central Pacific is now a major gateway for drugs from South America on their way to New Zealand and Australia. Whether in Toga, Fiji or Samoa, the international drug lords and their local minions pose a threat.
Concentrating large numbers of criminals who often already have records of being involved in the drug trade would appear to be, in the long term, highly dangerous not just to the islands, but to Australia and New Zealand, which are the target of the South American cartels.
If the deportees grew up to be violent thugs while living in Australia, New Zealand or the United States, it is up to the governments of those countries to realise that their societies failed these young men and it is up to them to rehabilitate them.
To ignore that responsibility and to use islands with which they have barely any connection as a human rubbish dump is simply cowardly.
The main points
- The policy of deporting criminals who have barely any connection with the kingdom to Tonga is cruel, cowardly and highly dangerous.
- The latest person to face deportation from Australia is Sedeli Huakau Taualii, 44, who left Tonga as a 20 month old infant in 1976.