WELLINGTON (Newsroom/Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch): An award-winning journalist whose reporting on a murder and corruption investigation got her deported from Malaysia has been prevented from boarding a flight to New Zealand, even though she has been back to Malaysia since, reports Newsroom.
Immigration authorities barred Australian journalist Mary Ann Jolley working for Al Jazeera from entering New Zealand because of her work uncovering a corruption scandal in Malaysia.
Jolley was deported from Malaysia in 2015 after she investigated a corruption scandal and murder linked to former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, according to Newsroom political reporter Dileepa Fonseka.
Jolley’s deportation notice did not prevent her from visiting the United Kingdom, the United States or Malaysia itself, but it was a no-go for New Zealand Immigration who barred her from boarding a Qantas flight in Sydney last week, Newsroom reported.
Jolley had planned to attend a friend’s birthday party in Auckland.
“I was not allowed to board a flight to New Zealand and I tried every which way with the New Zealand Immigration to say, ‘what’s this about? Last time you let me in the country I showed you the documentation. Why am I being barred?” Jolley said, according to Newsroom.
The journalist’s 2015 deportation by the Malaysian government was televised in an Al Jazeera 101 East documentary on the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu.
‘On a “bad list”‘
“I’ve just been told I’m on a ‘bad list’,” Jolley said to-camera during the documentary. She reported that Malaysian authorities had told her she had not committed any crime, but would be deported.
“I’m basically regarded in New Zealand as a criminal,” she told Newsroom.
Jolley followed up her case for entry into New Zealand with a frantic series of emails and phone calls to immigration and consular officials at Sydney airport as her plane readied for departure last week.
The final word came from the office of Associate Minister of Immigration Poto Williams who redirected Jolley’s query to INZ, reported Newsroom.
“I am advised that, in order to resolve your situation you would have to apply to Immigration New Zealand for a special direction for future travel to New Zealand, and attach all relevant documents for assessment by Immigration Officials,” a staffer for Williams wrote in an email to Jolley.
Nicola Hogg, general manager border and visa operations for INZ, said Jolley was granted a “special direction” at the border last year, but was told then that she would need to obtain one before she entered New Zealand next time.
Jolley had no memory of any such warning from INZ, Newsroom reported.
Under New Zealand law, the Malaysian government’s deportation of Jolley will have long-term consequences for how she enters the country.
Section 15 of the Immigration Act does not allow the entry of a person “who has, at any time, been removed, excluded, or deported from another country”.