Zaoui’s Prison Mistreatment Began At Paremoremo
By Kevin List
In the High Court last week the Crown advanced the argument that detained refugee, Ahmed Zaoui's current detention provisions provide “reasonable accommodation” and meet Zaoui’s cultural, religious, and psychological needs. However it also turned out that whilst incarcerated in the Auckland Central Remand Prison there was an incident involving Zaoui being locked in a 'special need’s unit' naked, without food, and without a psychologist’s care for over 24 hours.
Whilst argument may be put by Corrections that Zaoui’s incarceration in ACRP’s 'special needs unit' was for his own good, earlier allegations of mistreatment while incarcerated at Paremoremo's D-Block add weight to systematic and ongoing abuse.
Allegations of mistreatment involving prison guards first appeared in the public arena in a Sunday Star Times article in early August 2003. In the article it was alleged that Zaoui was stripped naked and subjected to humiliating treatment by guards within D Block. The incident referred to in the Sunday Star Times occurred in January 2003. As well as complaints from Zaoui's lawyer at the time Paul Coates, Dr Wahib Zaza (spokesman for the North African community in Auckland) also wrote to the Government due to his concerns regarding certain prison guards and their treatment of Zaoui.
Dr Zaza's email which went to then Immigration Minister, Lianne Dalziel, was written after Zaza had visited Zaoui in late January 2003.
Included in the email were these allegations:
"He (Zaoui) informed me that he is receiving very harsh treatment from some of the prison guards, and from two in particular. According to Professor Zaoui, at one stage one of the prison guards beat him, twisted his arm behind his back and forced his face against the wall. He told me three times that he had cried. He told me that the guards had threatened to beat him more than once.”
Dr Zaza also witnessed himself the treatment that Corrections staff meted out to (this was prior to Zaoui's refugee status and prior to the Security Risk Certificate) an asylum seeker in the New Zealand prison system.
"Another incident witnessed by me took place at the end of my visit. One of the guards went behind Professor Zaoui. I though that our time could be coming to a close, and was waiting for a signal to that effect. However the guard left without saying a word, only to return immediately with three other guards; they then shouted at him and forced him harshly to leave.
“This was not necessary at all as Professor Zaoui made no objection whatsoever. He looked very frightened. I was not able to see anything else as he was pushed out the door. But what I did see was neither proper nor pleasant at all.”
Scoop understands that after Dr Zaza's visit further alleged mistreatment occurred. These incidents were the subject of an official complaint to the Department of Corrections.
This week Scoop seeks answers as to what was done regarding these allegations….