Immigration review after Karel Sroubek debacle – delayed
A crucial immigration review, following the minister’s sloppy handling of the Karel Sroubek residency debacle, has been mired in delay.
Government documents reveal the already six-month overdue report is unlikely to see the light of day until October.
In November 2018, Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment chief executive Carolyn Tremain announced Mike Heron, QC had been commissioned to undertake an independent review of the processes Immigration New Zealand’s (INZ) used to compile files for decision-makers on residence and deportation liability.
It followed scrutiny of the processes and systems after Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway granted the drug smuggler residency.
The minister said his decision was difficult and considered but it was later revealed he did not seek legal advice, took 45 minutes to make his decision, didn’t read the full file and knew about Sroubek’s criminal past.
n November, he then determined Sroubek was liable for deportation because a visa was granted in error, after information was omitted from a file that showed he was an excluded person.
He also pushed some of the blame for the blunder on INZ for not giving him all the information he required to make his decision – such as the fact Sroubek had travelled back to the Czech Republic, indicating his life might not have been in danger as he claimed it was.
The Heron review was then ordered to find out how files were prepared, what information was included, and how the information was presented to decision makers.
A final report was expected to be prepared in March 2019 but the release was been mired in delays stemming from extra legal work being required and a summary of key recommendations being omitted from a draft report.
New information, contained in a briefing for incoming Associate Immigration Minister Poto Williams, suggested a final report will not be ready until next month.
The briefing states the review would consider a broad range of complex cases decided by the Immigration Minister and delegated decision makers, from a randomly selected pool of cases decided between November 1, 2016 and October 31, 2018.
However, it was revealed an examination of the quality of decisions made by a minister was outside the scope of the review.
The review would also consider the case file information prepared for Sroubek.
The briefing, dated July 5, states that a draft report containing the results of the review, summarising the findings and providing recommendations for process improvement was expected “shortly”.
Under the ‘no surprises’ policy, Lees-Galloway will be given a draft of the report but has not yet seen a copy in any form.
He said the report would be useful in considering if decision making processes could be improved and he would read it with interest.
On Friday, INZ general manager K-J Dillon said INZ received the final draft of the report on August 19 and was currently reviewing it to ensure it was technically accurate.
The initial fieldwork part of the review had taken longer than estimated and additional legal research was required, she said.
INZ then provided feedback around accuracy and context on draft versions of the report, she said.
In the meantime, INZ had not made any changes to the way in which it prepared and presented case files.
October 28, 2018
Stuff reveals Immigration Minister Ian Lees-Galloway made a special decision to grant convicted drug smuggler Karel Sroubek residency.
November 28, 2018
Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway revokes Sroubek’s residency.
MBIE announces Mike Heron, QC will undertake an independent review of Immigration New Zealand’s filing process.
Fieldwork and interviews due to finish with a final report expected to be prepared shortly after.
Additional information still required and a first draft expected within a month.
INZ receive an initial draft of the report to review. It gathers feedback around accuracy and context. Expects the final report by July or August.
INZ receive updated version of the draft report but Heron has not provided a summary of key recommendations.
INZ receives final draft of the report.
INZ currently reviewing draft to ensure it is technically accurate.