New Zealand to de­port in­tel­lec­tu­ally dis­abled man to Fiji with­out his fam­ily

The Guardian Australia - - Headlines - Eleanor Ainge Roy in Dunedin

An in­tel­lec­tu­ally dis­abled Fi­jian man who re­quires full-time care from his fam­ily is due to be de­ported from New Zealand be­cause the gov­ern­ment says the cost of car­ing for him is too ex­pen­sive.

Sa­gar Narayan, 20, has se­vere in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties and re­quires help with wash­ing, get­ting dressed and eat­ing his meals.

All of Narayan’s care is pro­vided by his im­me­di­ate fam­ily in New Zealand, and he spends his days in the fam­ily home watch­ing TV.

His fam­ily moved to Auck­land from Fiji eight years ago to es­cape cor­rup­tion and pro­vide a bet­ter life for their four chil­dren. He has no rel­a­tives in Fiji able to care for him, and the gov­ern­ment there has told his fam­ily it can­not look after him if he re­turns.

Narayan’s par­ents and his three sib­lings are per­ma­nent res­i­dents in New Zealand, but he has been or­dered to make plans to leave the coun­try by 27 Oc­to­ber after Im­mi­gra­tion New Zealand said his con­di­tion was too great a bur­den on the health sys­tem. His case was first re­ported by New­shub in New Zealand.

“There is noth­ing else they [Im­mi­gra­tion New Zealand] can do but drag him out of the fam­ily home and put him on a plane to a coun­try he has no rec­ol­lec­tion of,” said Alas­tair McC­ly­mont, the fam­ily’s lawyer, who has made half a dozen ap­peals to Im­mi­gra­tion New Zealand on Narayan’s be­half.

“He doesn’t even un­der­stand what is going on, he doesn’t know what im­mi­gra­tion is. He sim­ply doesn’t know any­thing, he has the men­tal age of a six-year-old.”

Narayan’s father Lalit said the fam­ily had al­ways looked after him at home and he has never re­quired as­sis­tance from the state.

“He has a men­tal dis­abil­ity, that’s all: he is not a threat to the pub­lic or any­thing. He’s never needed to be cared for [by the gov­ern­ment] or spent time in hos­pi­tal. He doesn’t need as­sis­tance, we look after him,” he said.

“I don’t want the money from the gov­ern­ment, I just want my son to stay with me, that’s all. I want them to give my son a chance to stay with his fam­ily.”

Peter Elms, the direc­tor of op­er­a­tions for Im­mi­gra­tion New Zealand said Narayan’s ap­pli­ca­tion for res­i­dency in New Zealand was de­clined on health grounds, and “he has been un­law­ful in New Zealand since Jan­uary last year and has been given un­til 27 Oc­to­ber to make ar­range­ments to leave the coun­try”.

Elms added: “Sub­se­quent ap­peals for min­is­te­rial in­ter­ven­tion have been de­clined and a de­por­ta­tion or­der was served on Sa­gar in April this year. INZ has worked closely with Sa­gar’s fam­ily and lawyer through­out this process to fa­cil­i­tate his de­par­ture from New Zealand.”

In its most re­cent let­ter to the fam­ily Im­mi­gra­tion NZ sug­gested Narayan – who can­not read or write – stay in touch with his New Zealand fam­ily from Fiji by “set­ting up a Skype ar­range­ment”.

The New Zealand gov­ern­ment rou­tinely de­clines res­i­dency ap­pli­ca­tions if it deems the ap­pli­cant’s con­di­tion will im­pose “sig­nif­i­cant costs on New Zealand’s health ser­vices” in ex­cess of NZ$41,000 (£22,000).

Narayan has been as­sessed as cost­ing New Zealand NZ$16,000 a year though his lawyer says that fig­ure is based on him at­tend­ing a spe­cial school, which he is no longer el­i­gi­ble for since turn­ing 20.

McC­ly­mont said the gov­ern­ment’s re­fusal to grant res­i­dency to ap­pli­cants on hu­man­i­tar­ian or com­pas­sion­ate health grounds had

be­come in­creas­ingly com­mon un­der the in­cum­bent gov­ern­ment, and Narayan’s only hope now is if a Labourled gov­ern­ment emerges from on­go­ing coali­tion talks and takes a kinder view of his ap­pli­ca­tion to re­main in the coun­try.

Last year a pres­ti­gious Bel­gian math­e­ma­ti­cian left New Zealand after his step­son was de­clined res­i­dency be­cause of his autism.

At the time as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor Dim­itri Lee­mans said Im­mi­gra­tion New Zealand had bro­ken the UN con­ven­tion on hu­man rights, and he no longer wished to live in a coun­try that did not re­spect univer­sal hu­man rights.

Tak­ing the case to the high court was an op­tion for Narayan, said McC­ly­mont, and the fam­ily have started a givealit­tle page to be­gin rais­ing funds for a fi­nal ap­peal.

“These sorts of sit­u­a­tions are now be­com­ing very com­mon and it is a re­flec­tion of the cur­rent gov­ern­ment and their po­si­tion in re­gards to chil­dren, re­la­tion­ships and peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties,” said McC­ly­mont, who has worked in the field for more than 20 years.

Narayan’s fam­ily and lawyer have writ­ten to the Fi­jian gov­ern­ment re­quest­ing care for him in a res­i­den­tial fa­cil­ity, but the Fi­jian gov­ern­ment said it had no ca­pac­ity to care for him. The fam­ily’s sole re­main­ing rel­a­tive in Fiji is in ill health her­self.

“He has no­body, he has noth­ing,” said McC­ly­mont.

“The only op­tion now is for his fam­ily to leave New Zealand with Sa­gar and re­turn to Fiji. But then they would have to aban­don their other chil­dren who are liv­ing here and study­ing and have cit­i­zen­ship. They are ba­si­cally be­ing forced to choose be­tween their chil­dren.”

Pho­to­graph: Lalit Narayan

Sa­gar Narayan (left) and his brother in Auck­land.

Pho­to­graph: Lalit Narayan

Sa­gar Narayan (left) with his father, Lalit.

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