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AI welcomes outcomes of judicial review of Zaoui


Friday 19 December 2003

Amnesty International welcomes outcomes of judicial review of Zaoui case

Amnesty International welcomed today's High Court decision in the judicial review of Ahmed Zaoui's case, but is not surprised by it. The High Court found that human rights must be considered in the Inspector-General's review of the Security Risk Certificate on Ahmed Zaoui, and that Mr Zaoui should be given access to a summary of the information held against him by the SIS.

"The decision of the High Court that human rights must be considered by the Inspector-General in this case, is hardly a surprise given that it conforms with long-established international human rights standards. For that reason, we would be very surprised if the Government appealed this very clear decision. The decision paves the way for Mr Zaoui to receive a fair trial in New Zealand," said Amnesty International.

The High Court judge conducting the review, Justice Williams, found that provision of a summary of allegations was not prohibited under New Zealand law. He also found that human rights obligations "mandate the provision of such a summary consistent with overseas practice."

Amnesty International is urging the Government to ensure that the summary of information is provided without delay, considering the amount of time Mr Zaoui has spent in prison already.

The fact that Mr Zaoui's lawyers were forced to go to the High Court to secure fundamental fair trial safeguards highlights the inadequacy of the legislation. Amnesty International has previously voiced concerns over what is an inherently unfair process, and has pointed out that it is improper to leave basic human rights guarantees at the discretion of a single official ? however eminent. Amnesty International is calling on the government to immediately review the legislation to bring it into line with New Zealand's human rights obligations.

"The right of a person charged - or subject to a Certificate - to know at least the outline of the allegations against them and the basis on which they are made is one of the most fundamental tenets of natural justice and should be implemented in Mr Zaoui's case as far as is possible consistent with the definition of "classified security information"," Justice Williams concluded.


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