Comancheros 501 Formerly Transferred to the UN: Moussa Folau’s Interview in Geneva with the Committee against Torture

Musa Folau, deportation advocate Philippa Payne, and podcast host David Ubeda at the United Nations in Geneva. The attached photo

A delegation from New Zealand met with United Nations officials to demand an apology, accountability and financial compensation from the Australian government for their mass deportation of residents with a checkered past.

Philippa Payne, founder of Route 501 advocacy group, deported Comancheros, Moses Folau, and David Ubeda – a former 501 deportee turned podcaster – have challenged the Australian government’s treatment of deportees and its hardening policy on immigration.

We took legal action and filed it with the United Nations about 18 months ago. I know 400 clients seeking legal action – the first deposit will come at the end of the year. It’s about letting people share their truth and the hardships they’ve faced.

We want an apology, but we also want accountability and financial compensation. “If there is any accountability, it is no longer Australia’s bad little secret and the world must address it,” Payne said.

In late 2014, then-Minister for Immigration Scott Morrison passed a bill that tightened the character test for immigration law so that non-citizens with at least 12 months in prison would automatically be deported. This includes several sentences and applies regardless of the crime/offences.

Other amendments gave the Minister the discretion to deport a non-citizen regardless of his convictions, this includes being or likely to be “a danger to the health, safety or good of the Australian community”.

The majority of people in detention centers are New Zealanders, and 61 per cent of 501 visas have been revoked.

Earlier this year, Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton was widely criticized by New Zealand politicians for comparing deportees to “garbage”.

Payne said that if New Zealanders have problems with deporting 501s here, they should call the Australian government rather than blaming deportees who don’t want to be here.

I believe that everyone has the right to rehabilitation. We would expect these people to be grateful, but vilified for their New Zealand citizenship. We have a social responsibility, and if we don’t add some humanity in what we do, we are criminals.”

Musa Folau, 38, said he was humbled to share his personal story with the Optional Protocol Committee against Torture (OPCAT).

“I have lived in these detention centers and witnessed firsthand the horrific treatment that people are forced to endure on a daily basis at the hands of corrupt and violent guards,” Folau said. Weekend Herald from Geneva.

“It was great to hear from you. In my opinion, the Australian government hasn’t listened. New Zealand is doing its best, but nothing seems to be changing – so the only thing to do was take it to the world stage.”

Philippa Payne, 501 Deported Advocate from Australia and founder of Route 502 Advocacy and Support Group, and Moses Folau, 501 Deported from Australia.  The attached photo
Philippa Payne, 501 Deported Advocate from Australia and founder of Route 502 Advocacy and Support Group, and Moses Folau, 501 Deported from Australia. The attached photo

Payne said she was proud to introduce Folau, who was “polite and heartfelt”.

“Moses has suffered a lot of harm, so [for him] To show his vulnerability made me proud. He changed my life and I can’t walk away. I trust him with my kids and trust him with my life. He is loyal and someone who is willing to stand up for others.”

Folau said the past few years have been a struggle. He is tired of being judged and criticized for his criminal past. He was also frustrated at being denied access to his 16-year-old son and his mother, who still live in Melbourne.

His older brother passed away recently, and Folau had to watch his funeral online, alone, in his inner-city Auckland apartment.

“I got dressed and bought a new suit and polished my shoes and dyed my hair. You killed me, I watched my son carry my brother’s coffin and I saw all my family weeping,” Folau said.

Folau, who had lived in Melbourne since he was five, had been in Maribyrnong detention center for seven months when he agreed to be deported, fearing he might be sent to Christmas Island.

He was deported in 2016 and “big bill” by the Australian government despite assurances that people returned to New Zealand would not be charged. Folau was required to pay $3,100 for airline tickets for himself and the security escort he traveled with.

He has 10 convictions in Australia, including a prison sentence for assault, and three more since his deportation to New Zealand. New Zealand’s offense included an assault in central Auckland.

His most recent conviction was in 2018, for driving with excessive alcohol breathing and reckless driving, resulting from Folau reversing on State Highway 16 after missing an exit.

In the National Police Intelligence (NIA) application, he is listed as a member of the Comancheros Motorcycle Club.

Folau denied being a member of the Comancheros, although he admitted he was close to a gang in Australia before his deportation.

Moses Folau (left) was supported by former Auckland mayoral candidate Leo Molloy as he fought for a liquor licence.  Photo/Auckland Council
Moses Folau (left) was supported by former Auckland mayoral candidate Leo Molloy as he fought for a liquor licence. Photo/Auckland Council

In July, Folau failed in his attempt to obtain a liquor license for his members-only club in downtown Auckland, 9Eleven. He no longer holds the lease and now works as a project manager for a construction company.

“Moses has to face trial every day and it’s not justified. He’s been used as a scapegoat when things go wrong. He’s done his best in New Zealand to be a contributing member of society, but he’s constantly being brought down,” said Payne.

Folau said his life is going well and he is committed to fighting for dispossessed deportees who have no voice.

“Although I accept my fate, I am passionate about the deportation cases and the human rights abuses that, in my opinion, the Australian government continues to commit. I cannot turn my back on those who are in genuine need of my help, because I have been there.”

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