Immigration appeals tribunal overturns a third of rejected asylum cases

By Gill Bonnett of RNZ

An appeals tribunal has overturned rejection decisions in a third of all asylum cases it heard in the last year.

The immigration and protection tribunal has also upheld appeals by more than one in three people due to be deported.

In residence appeals, 286 people were successful and another 64 were found to have special circumstances and were referred to the associate minister of immigration.

The tribunal's annual report for the last financial year showed the number of appeals on hand were the lowest in its history.

That meant almost all appeals could be allocated for a decision or hearing as soon as they are received and prepared.

One notable case that has not been is that of Czech drug-smuggler Karel Sroubek, who appealed against his deportation in early 2019.

A search of the tribunal's 2020 decisions show the COVID-19 pandemic was mentioned in 93 of the 232 deportation cases it decided last year, as overstayers and criminals fought to stay in New Zealand.

The tribunal was formed a decade ago and replaced four separate appeal bodies covering refugees, removals, deportations and residency applications.