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Returning children must be protected and embraced
26 July 2021
Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft is urging the public and media to respect the privacy and wellbeing of the children returning with their mother from Turkey, following the Governments’ announcement today.
“I am proud that New Zealand has put the interests of the children in this case first and allowed them safe passage to Aotearoa with their mother,” Commissioner Becroft says.
“Now the rest of us need to call on the same compassionate spirit that saw us come together through Covid and other tragedies. We need to protect and embrace the two small children at the centre of this situation as they start to make Aotearoa home. They are New Zealand citizens after all.
“These children have had an incredibly hard start to life and have been living in conditions unimaginable to most New Zealanders.
“Like all children, they have human rights, regardless of the actions of their parents. They have the right to a full, free life, including a safe home and an education, as much as any other Australian or New Zealand child does. I believe it’s the responsibility of all of us to make sure they do.
“While I understand this situation may be concerning to some New Zealanders, by far the best thing for the children - and for the safety of our country - is that the family be allowed the space and privacy to resettle and get used to their new home.
“As signatories to the UN Children’s Convention both Australia and New Zealand are required countries to put the interests of the child first, when making in decisions that affect them. However, only New Zealand appears to have taken that obligation seriously in this case.
“By stripping the family of citizenship Australia has arguably breached its obligations under the Convention. That decision seems not to have been made in the interests of the children, but in the political interests of the governing Australian party.
“Children should never be used as political pawns which it appears Australia has done here,” Commissioner Becroft says.