FIFTY-ONE Fijians have been deported from New Zealand in the first eight months of this year.
Immigration New Zealand in Fiji general manager Intelligence, Risk and Integrity Peter Elms yesterday said the reasons for the deportation included overstayers with invalid visa, working illegally or not complying with visa conditions and criminals who had completed their term of imprisonment. Mr Elms said out of the 51 Fijians, 13 were women and 38 men, who were deported between January 1 and August 31.
When asked about the seriousness of the offences committed by Fijians who were deported for their involvement in criminal activities, he said they did not keep records of such information in a format which enabled them to report on it.
"People unlawfully in New Zealand are case managed according to their circumstances. Those engaged in criminality are the highest priority for deportation," Mr Elms said. He said they worked with the police and other agencies to ensure this process was efficient.
"We work with other government agencies to identify overstayers and we also receive information from the New Zealand public."
According to New Zealand Immigration, the number of Fijian overstayers from July 2000 to May last year was 14,164.
The highest number of Fijian overstayers in New Zealand recorded in a single year was 1055 for 2011.
The Immigration New Zealand website states that under the Immigration Act 2009, all unlawful persons, including overstayers, must leave New Zealand. It adds that overstayers must appreciate that if there are no special circumstances that call for the granting of a visa, they are expected to leave New Zealand or face deportation.
Meanwhile, director Immigration, Major Nemani Vuniwaqa said Fiji's laws had no provisions to punish Fijian nationals who were deported.
"Being deported is a punishment in itself.
"The same will happen to other nationals who illegally stay in Fiji," Major Vuniwaqa added.