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NZ First shows ignorance on Algerian amnesty

9 March 2006

NZ First shows ignorance on Algerian amnesty and Zaoui

Ahmed Zaoui should not be made to return to Algeria in the wake of an amnesty there, despite calls from NZ First MP Peter Brown for him to do so, Green Party Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Keith Locke says.

"The amnesty actually makes it more dangerous for Mr Zaoui to return to Algeria. The biggest threat he would face there would be an extra-legal attack by elements in the security agencies," Mr Locke says.

"Such opponents of Mr Zaoui and his FIS party will be feeling more cocky after being granted a blanket amnesty for the torture and murder of thousands of Algerians during the civil war. The amnesty decree even criminalises public criticism of the repressive role of the security forces.

"There has also been a partial amnesty to the Islamic extremists of the GIA who have previously threatened Mr Zaoui's life.

"It is good that some genuine political prisoners are being released. But Algeria won't really be safe for Mr Zaoui until there is a bona fide reconciliation process like that which occurred in South Africa after the fall of Apartheid. Algerians need to be able tell the truth about the horrors of the past, and bring those responsible to justice - be they soldiers, police or Islamic extremists.

"It is hypocritical for Mr Brown to bang on about the cost to the taxpayer of the Zaoui affair. He has backed the Government spending a fortune on prison accommodation and court costs.

"If NZ First and Labour had accepted the Refugee Status Appeals Authority decision that Mr Zaoui is a legitimate refugee, Mr Zaoui would have been paying taxes, probably as a university lecturer, since August 2003," Mr Locke says.

ENDS

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