Government extends border exception criteria for mosque attacker’s sentencing

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New exceptions will allow victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks entry into New Zealand and more financial help to do so.

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Iain Lees-Galloway said there is a process to allow victims and a family member to come to New Zealand on humanitarian grounds Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Brenton Tarrant is set to be sentenced on 24 August starting from 10am, having pleaded guilty to 51 charges of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one under the Terrorism Suppression Act in March.

In a statement, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said a process had been established to allow victims and a family member to come to New Zealand on humanitarian grounds.

“We want to support our valued Muslim brothers and sisters who were directly affected by this tragic event and understand that some who are now offshore do want to attend the sentencing,” he said.

Lees-Galloway said quarantine arrangements and commercial flight availability may make travelling to New Zealand a challenge.

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To manage isolation and quarantine capacity, those eligible to apply for a border exception under new humanitarian grounds include:

  • Up to two family members of those killed or one family member and one support person
  • those who were subject to an attempted murder in the attack and one family member or support person to accompany them.

“I understand the Ministry of Justice has been working with the Court to put in place technology options to enable victims who are overseas and unable to travel to view the sentencing hearing and read a Victim Impact Statement remotely,” he said.

The Ministry of Justice has also announced an extenstion to the Victim Assistance Scheme to provide financial aid to those wanting to travel to the sentencing.

It allows all victims who were present in the mosques at the time of the attacks to be eligible to receieve contributions towards travel related costs.

The scheme was limited to those who suffered gunshot injuries and the families of the deceased.

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Ministry chief operating officer Carl Crafar said the exception recognised the unprecedented nature of the attacks and the trauma on all victims who were present.

Sentencing was an important part of the justice process, he said.

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