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Decision a Hint of Polish on Tarnished Reputation

Thu, 9 Dec 2004

Bail Decision a Hint of Polish on Tarnished Reputation

The Alliance has applauded the granting of bail for Ahmed Zaoui as a small step towards restoring New Zealand's tarnished international reputation. Two years of imprisonment without trial - including months of solitary confinement - for an acknowledged refugee is behaviour more reminiscent of a third world dictatorship than a free and civilized country.

That Zaoui deserves to be freed is in little doubt. Though the SIS claims to have secret evidence to prove that he is dangerous, they do not say that this is the only evidence. Instead, they have also admitted taking in to account much publicly available evidence - the same "evidence" that was thoroughly discredited by the Refugee Status Appeal Authority.

"If they had a real case against Zaoui, they would acknowledge the failings of the evidence currently in the public domain," said Kelly Buchanan, Alliance Spokesperson on Human Rights. "That they continue to rely on discredited information casts grave doubt on the validity of whatever classified information they may have."

"The government's obsession with keeping Zaoui locked up is perplexing. The only plausible explanation is that they're trying to impress the United States, saying 'look, we can be tough on terror too!' The Alliance doesn't think Guantanamo Bay is an example we should be trying to live up to."

The Alliance is disturbed by the amount of misinformation and distortion given about Mr Zaoui. For example, the use of false papers is standard practice for refugees. It is ludicrous to hold that against a class of person who by definition isn't able to obtain legitimate papers. It is equally ludicrous to suggest that he could willingly return to Malaysia, which would result in his deportation to Algeria, torture, and execution.

ENDS

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