Thursday 29th September 2016                 Change text size:

Kiribati citizen loses appeal on climate asylum request in New Zealand



KevGuy4101 via flickr

Ioane Teitiota, who unsuccessfully asked the New Zealand High Court for asylum because of the threat sea level rise poses in Kirbati, has lost his appeal and will have to go home.

The Court of Appeal denied the asylum and called the request “novel but unconvincing”, meaning that the man and his family will be deported.

The court said that the case was an attempt to “stand the [UN refugee] convention on its head”.

Teitiota, 37, from the island of Kiribati, tried to achieve the status of climate refugee after his visa expired, because he said there was no future on the island for him and his family.

The New Zealand High Court rejected the plea last year, saying that it was a situation that all Kiribati citizens had to face and that there were not the circumstances for Teitiota to “suffer a sustained and systemic violation of his basic human rights such as the right to life […] or the right to adequate food, clothing and housing”, essential to guarantee asylum.

In 2012, Kiribati president Anote Tong said the country was buying land on neighbouring island Fiji, to relocate people and grow food crops.

Kiribati is expected to be wiped out by the end of the century due to the effects of climate change, a fate feared by many other Pacific nations that are coping with rising sea levels, lack of land to grow food and extreme weather.

Last year in September, the president of the Marshall Islands called on developed nations – those most responsible for climate change –to do more, as climate change in the Pacific had already arrived.

Photo: KevGuy4101 via flickr

Further reading:

Kiribati citizen sees New Zealand climate asylum plea rejected

Kiribati citizen seeks ‘climate asylum’ in New Zealand

‘Climate change has already arrived’, president of the Marshall Islands warns

Swimming against the tide: the Pacific nations fighting a losing battle with climate change

Mass migration and social unrest: why the west should care about climate change


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