New Zealand / Refugees And Migrants

China's reaction to deported workers should be considered - lawyer

17:04 pm on 3 April 2021

A Chinese worker who fled from police while being taken to Auckland Airport for deportation, has had a charge of absconding withdrawn.

The Chinese worker appeared before the Auckland District Court today and has now been returned to Mt Eden Prison. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

He is one of 10 Chinese men who are being deported after being caught working illegally at an Auckland construction site last month.

His lawyer claims he is the victim of human trafficking.

It has been revealed the man opened the door of the police car he was in on Thursday while being deported and he walked for seven hours.

He surrendered to police after talking with a Mandarin-speaking person he met in the street.

In the district court in Auckland today, the absconding charge was withdrawn and the man returned to Mt Eden Prison.

His lawyer, Matt Robson, said another attempt to deport him is likely.

Robson said China's human rights record needs to be considered before the 10 illegal Chinese workers are sent home.

Matt Robson represents nine of the men and said officials need to ask about the potential for retribution in China.

"China's an unknown quantity to a lot of us but the issue of corruption of those who hold different positions of power is well known."

Robson earlier said the fact that the man had absconded shows some desperation.

"Him and anybody else are people that both the Department of Labour who've been trying to interview him as well but have been obstructed by Immigration New Zealand - these are the sorts of questions to ask to get to the bottom of this case and the others."

Robson said he was unable to speak to his client yesterday, which is part of his ongoing difficulties with Immigration NZ.

He maintains that the men are victims of human trafficking, but Immigration NZ said it has found no evidence of this and Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi has also said he has been assured the proper processes were followed.

Immigration NZ earlier said arrangements are being made to deport the man who escaped.

The other men are being held in Mt Eden Prison until dates are set for their flights out of the country.