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Zaoui Can Be Moved From Prison – Court Of Appeal

Zaoui Can Be Moved From Prison

By Kevin List

IMAGES: Court Of Appeal Splits Over Zaoui Bail

Today's Court of Appeal judgment concerning the detention of Algerian refugee, Ahmed Zaoui, strongly emphasised that prison was certainly not the only option that could be considered for Mr Zaoui's ongoing detention.

Whilst both Justice's McGrath and O'Regan concluded that Mr Zaoui's 21 months detention was legal, and that he had no recourse to bail, Justice Hammond considered that Mr Zaoui's ongoing detention breached the Bill Of Rights and expressed outrage at the way in which Mr Zaoui was being treated.

"To contend, in this day and age, that a person (not on a criminal charge) can be incarcerated for something like two years, with common (and not so common) criminals, whilst the state decides what to do with him, beggars description," Justice Hammond wrote in his dissenting decision.

Justice Hammond further considered Mr Zaoui should be given bail and should be allowed to reside at a Catholic monastery in Auckland.

However due to the majority decision delivered by Justices O'Regan and McGrath the chance of ecclesiastical exchanges between the Muslim Imam and the Fransican Friar's remains at present unlikely, at least for now.

Nonetheless whilst the majority decision denied Mr Zaoui immediate freedom, it was obvious to the Justices that there was no necessity that Mr Zaoui should remain incarcerated in prison whilst the Inspector General reviews the security risk certificate under which Mr Zaoui has been detained.

Co-Leader of the Greens Rod Donald called on the Government today to take note of the Court of Appeal decision. Mr Donald considered Mr Zaoui's continuing penal incarceration to be completely at odds with the Prime Minister's vision of New Zealand.

"It [Mr Zaoui's continuing detention] undermines Helen Clark's whole image of New Zealand being a compassionate country. This man is a former member of Parliament…even the convictions he received in Europe are not for terrorism. It's a totally false accusation for anyone to say that he has been convicted of terrorism anywhere," Mr Donald told Scoop.

Although the Court of Appeal decision means Mr Zaoui will remain detained, Mr Donald considered that the decision made it clear to the Government that there was no legal reason why Mr Zaoui could not be moved from penal detention.

"The explicit nature [of the Court of Appeal Ruling] really puts the heat on the Government to change its own regulations to allow Mr Zaoui to shift to where he should have been all along."

Government coalition partner Matt Robson of the Progressives added his voice to the call for government consideration of the decision.

In a statement Mr Robson said, " The Court of Appeal today has urged the government to change its regulations so that a District Court judge has the power to release Ahmed Zaoui, and any other refugee in his situation.

Such refugees could be released to either the Mangere Refugee Centre or into the community on bail conditions. "

In a concluding paragraph Justice O'Regan concurred with Justice McGrath that it was possible for someone in Mr Zaoui's situation to be detained during the security risk process outside prison walls.

"I therefore add my voice to that of McGrath J in highlighting the potential for Executive action to broaden the scope of detention options, consistently with Parliament’s intention as reflected in the wording of s114O, to allow for detention in premises other than a penal institution. That in turn would mean that an alternative, less restrictive, form of detention would become an available option in Mr Zaoui’s case."

A spokesman for the Minister of Immigration said the Government was considering the decision.


Zaoui Refused Bail But TVNZ Granted Right To Interview - The Court of Appeal has announced its decisions in two appeal cases related to jailed Algerian security risk certificate recipient Ahmed Zaoui. In a split decision the court voted two to one against allowing Mr Zaoui to be bailed. Justice Hammond dissented. See NEWSFLASH: Zaoui To Stay In Jail & Scoop Images: Court Of Appeal Rules On Zaoui Bail
Full text of decisions: Ahmed Zaoui V Attorney-General - CA CA166/04 & Court Of Appeal Decision - TVNZ Zaoui Interview
- Progressives - PM needs to heed Court of Appeal plea on Zaoui
- Greens - Release Zaoui now!

FULL COVERAGE:Ahmed Zaoui & Refugee Issues

**** ENDS ****

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