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Zaoui decision should stop deportation: Locke

21 June 2005

Zaoui decision should stop deportation: Locke

Green MP Keith Locke is welcoming the Supreme Court's latest decision in the Zaoui case, saying the important due process considerations ordered will make it difficult for Mr Zaoui to be deported back to possible torture and death in Algeria.

"It is good that the Supreme Court has upheld the Court of Appeal's decision - that the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has to find a very real security danger before the Security Risk Certificate against Mr Zaoui can be upheld," said Mr Locke, the Greens' Security and Intelligence Spokesperson.

"I am confident that the Inspector General will find the 'threatened harm' is not 'substantial', which is the high bar the Supreme Court has set. It means the diplomatic arguments - the SIS Director said in the summary of allegations that 'like-minded' countries would be upset if Mr Zaoui was allowed to stay here - would not be sufficient reason to expel him.

"It is also good that the Supreme Court requires the Inspector-General to conduct a thorough judicial-type process, where all character and other evidence in Mr Zaoui's favour can be considered.

"It is also heartening that the Supreme Court has ruled that Mr Zaoui cannot be deported into a situation of death or torture, though it has felt obliged to leave that decision to a politician, the Immigration Minister, at the end of the process. At least the Court is requiring the Minister to conduct a thorough inquiry into the dangers Mr Zaoui would face that will not be truncated by the Act's 'three days' and will take full account of our Bill of Rights and obligations under international human rights treaties.

"It would be much better to remove the Security Risk Certificate provision from the Immigration Act, because it gives too much power to a Minister whose decision could be clouded by their Government's political agenda.

"I would ask the Minister to show some compassion and understanding at this stage. Mr Zaoui has gone through a two-and-a-half-year nightmare since arriving in New Zealand, spending 10 months in solitary confinement and being a guinea pig for our security laws. The Minister has the power, right now, to lift the Security Risk Certificate against Mr Zaoui. I call on Mr Swain to let Mr Zaoui live happily in New Zealand with his family, as the refugee the Refugee Status Appeals Authorities found him to be.

"Since being released on bail, Mr Zaoui has toured universities talking on relations between Islam and the West and religious tolerance, issues on which he is an acknowledged academic expert. If allowed, I am sure he can make an even greater contribution to New Zealand.

"But the human cost of this case for him and his family has been great. The blind intransigence of the Government has also cost the taxpayer a lot, with nearly $1.5 million spent on the Government's legal fees to the end of April alone, and some $375,000 for the defence," said Mr Locke.

ENDS

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