LISA MARTIN AAP NOVEMBER 19, 2013 10:41AM
THE Migration Review Tribunal did not check the criminal record of a New Zealand bikie who was given a special protection visa.
A Senate committee has been told the tribunal decided the 36-year-old Kiwi, who was in a witness protection scheme before flying to Australia in 2005, faced a threat of significant harm in his home country.
He was issued with complementary protection, which covers people who are not refugees as defined by the Refugee Convention but cannot be returned to their home country because of a real risk they will suffer harm.
Tribunal officials were asked to explain the decision during a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra on Tuesday.
Principal member Kay Ransome said she could not comment on individual cases.
“The hearings are private and the circumstances are not released to the public,” she said.
Asked if criminal history is taken into account when considering such cases, Ms Ransome said “not under the complementary protection criterion itself”.
The tribunal would only be aware of a criminal history if it was included in the immigration department’s file.
The tribunal only looks at whether a person meets the criteria, while the department is responsible for granting visas.
Department secretary Martin Bowles said complementary protection visas were used in cases where a person faced a threat such as an honour killing.
“It could be because your gang is going to get you too,” Liberal senator Sue Boyce said.
The tribunal has determined 83 people met the criteria for complementary visas since their introduction in March 2012.
The New Zealand bikie had been convicted of assault with a blunt instrument, drug possession, theft and traffic offences.
According to media reports, he has faced additional criminal charges in Australia including weapons and drugs offences, and receiving stolen property.
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