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Locke disappointed with approach to refugees

28 August 2000

Locke disappointed with speculative approach to refugees

Green MP Keith Locke said he was disappointed with Auckland police for publicly linking Afghani refugees to a supposed terrorism plot, without laying any charges against them.

Mr Locke said it was against proper police procedure to blacken people's names without laying charges.

"Several Afghanis, who are due to come before an Auckland court this week on people-smuggling charges, are being branded across the world's media as terrorist suspects," he said.

"This is totally unfair to them, and to the Afghani community here, which is also inadvertently being tarred with the terrorist brush."

Mr Locke said he was concerned that the national police crime manager, Detective Inspector Bill Bishop, had stirred up the story through publicly backing the accusations.

"We now read in media reports, as in this mornings New Zealand Herald, that there is an Auckland Afghani group 'linked' to Osama bin Laden," said Mr Locke.

"The 'evidence' (a Sydney street map and some jottings in a notebook) couldn't have been very strong, because it was discovered five months ago and no charges have followed," he said.

Mr Locke said he hoped the flimsy story would not be used to justify the controversial new Australian legislation giving exceptional powers to police and military personnel during the Olympics.

"I am disappointed that speculation is replacing proper policing. Afghani refugees often come here because of horrific treatment in their home country. These latest allegations add to their anguish."

Keith Locke MP: 04 470 6710, 025 528 353

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