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Ahmed Zaoui: Well Known Supporters Publicly Caged

Ahmed Zaoui: Well Known Supporters Publicly Caged

Well-Known New Zealanders Publically 'Caged' To Show Support For Ahmed Zaoui's Rights

Celebrities are amongst concerned New Zealanders who will publicly 'imprison" themselves to highlight disquiet at Ahmed Zaoui's 11 months of detention without charge or trial.

People such as Bishop Richard Randerson, actors Sara Wiseman, Grant Tilly, Miranda Harcourt and Stuart Devenie, comedians Michelle A-Court and Jeremy Elwood will spend 11 minutes in a cage ? one minute for every month of refugee Ahmed Zaoui's detention ? during actions in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, November 17-19. (see separate timetable)

"This public demonstration is indicative of the growing support for freedom or fair trial for Ahmed Zaoui, not only from such high profile New Zealanders as the former Governor General Sir Paul Reeves, author CK Stead and Cardinal Tom Williams but internationally too with human rights activist Noam Chomsky also expressing concern about Mr Zaoui's plight,' confirms AINZ Executive Director Ced Simpson.

"Our public actions this week; the thousands of people who have signed our petition, and sent letters, notes and emails to the New Zealand Government in support of Ahmed Zaoui's rights are sending a very clear message. If New Zealand's international reputation as a respecter of human rights is to be maintained it must first protect human rights here at home."

For further comment contact:

Ced Simpson BH 0-4-499 3349 AH 0-4-938 0716 / 0-4-938 0717 mobile 021 371 205

PHOTO OPPORTUNITY 'Cage' actions will occur in three centres at the following times and places:

Auckland Monday, November 17, noon-2pm, Vulcan Lane Tuesday, November 18, noon-2pm, Aotea Square Wednesday, November 19, 7.30-9am, QEII Square Contact: Margaret Taylor ph 09 303 4519, 021 165 1834

Wellington: Monday, November 17, noon-2pm, cnr Lambton Quay & Hunter St, Tuesday, November 18, noon-2pm, Civic Square, Wednesday, November 19, noon-2pm, cnr Cuba Mall and Manners Mall, Contact: Daniel Furner, phone 04 4993595, 021 253 8153

Christchurch Monday, November 17, noon-2pm, Cathedral Square Contact: Vince Moreton, ph 03 322 6345

Background Although moved from solitary confinement in Paremoremo maximum security prison on 16 October, Ahmed Zaoui - father of four, scholar, almost-elected parliamentarian in Algeria's only democratic elections - remains in prison in Auckland on the basis of secret intelligence information to which neither he nor his lawyers have access.

He has been detained for 11 months, despite being granted refugee status by the independent tribunal to which he appealed. In a comprehensive 223-page decision New Zealand's Refugee Status Appeals Authority found that Mr Zaoui had "a well-founded fear" of torture or death if returned to Algeria, and that there were no serious reasons for considering that he has committed any significant crime outside New Zealand.

Responding to recent rulings of the Inspector-General of Intelligence & Security, Amnesty International has called on the New Zealand Government to live up to its 1999 promise "to create and sustain a world-leading human rights environment" by ensuring the adoption of fair procedures for handling the Ahmed Zaoui case. A High Court judicial review of the handling of Mr Zaoui's case has been sought by his lawyers. The Inspector-General, Laurie Greig has argued that the conditions of Mr Zaoui's detention, and the human rights issues involved, were not relevant considerations in his review of the Security Risk Certificate. That hearing is set down for the High Court, Auckland, December 1-3, 2003.

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