Opinion: Dodgy diplomacy and the refugee caught in a revolving door
01 August 2004
By FINLAY MACDONALD
As historical ironies go, the revelations that New Zealand officials invited French authorities to criticise our Refugee Status Appeals Authority's report on Ahmed Zaoui will take some beating. The only country to have perpetrated an act of terrorism against New Zealand is now being enlisted by another Labour government to help bolster its own shonky case against a hapless Algerian caught on the wrong side of the "war on terror". Oddly, some people seem less exercised by this than by the self-imposed costs to the state of keeping Zaoui banged up inside.
It's more than once been observed that Zaoui's predicament borders on the Kafkaesque; no sooner do he and his legal team win a point of law or prove an aspect of the case against him to be unfounded than the revolving doors spin and he's back facing the same nameless accusers with their undisclosed charges that he is a security risk for reasons too secret and sensitive to divulge even to his lawyers. The latest episode is a classic of the now established genre.
It hasn't been well reported, other than in the couple of publications that have kept a running score on the Zaoui affair (honourable mentions this paper, the Listener and scoop.co.nz), so you may have missed it. But immediately after the government lost again to Zaoui in the High Court last December, when it was ruled that his defence must have access to a summary of the hitherto classified SIS allegations, and that the inspector-general of the SIS had to take Zaoui's human rights into consideration when reviewing the evidence, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), via its embassies, began soliciting comments on the crucial parts of the RSAA report that found Zaoui's European convictions "unsafe".
Yes, you could call this manufacturing news, and it's a pretty sad comment on the way the media can be played to suit official ends.
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