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NZ First Zaoui Call Unwarranted

8 March 2006

NZ First Zaoui Call Unwarranted

The New Zealand section of Amnesty International has criticised the latest call by New Zealand First for Ahmed Zaoui to be sent back to Algeria, saying his refugee status should not be ignored, and the review of his security risk certificate short-circuited, based on Algerias recent presidential amnesty decree.

"Far from making it safe for Zaoui to return to Algeria the amnesty decree cited by NZ First Deputy Leader Peter Brown appears to be calculated to target critics such as Ahmed Zaoui," said Amnestys New Zealand director, Ced Simpson.

Earlier this month Amnesty International and three other human rights groups warned that article 46 of the decree approved by the Algerian cabinet on 27 February appears to muzzle open debate by criminalizing public discussion about the nation's decade-long conflict.

New Zealand politicians should not ignore the fact that the relevant New Zealand authority has found Ahmed Zaoui to be a genuine refugee, and through no fault of his the basis of the security risk certificate against him has still not been reviewed in a fair judicial process, Mr Simpson said.

Far from leading a charmed existence Mr Zaoui has been subjected to al lengthy period of solitary confinement, a prolonged restricted existence in New Zealand without his family, and continuing uncertainty.

No New Zealand parliamentarian has seen the information that led the Director of Security to allege Mr Zaoui is a risk to New Zealands security, but they have now had ample time to read and study the comprehensive decision of Refugee Status Appeals Authority that questioned Mr Zaouis convictions in Europe and concluded he should be allowed to remain in New Zealand.

MPs concerned about both justice and the New Zealand taxpayer should ensure future refugees fleeing unfair imprisonment, torture and death are given the prompt and fair hearing to which they are entitled.

Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have criticised the Algerian decree for consecrating impunity for crimes under international law and other human rights abuses.

Background

Article 46 of the Algerian presidential decree threatens to punish anyone who, by speech, writing, or any other act, uses or exploits the wounds of the National Tragedy to harm the institutions of the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, to weaken the state, or to undermine the good reputation of its agents who honorably served it, or to tarnish the image of Algeria internationally.

Amnesty International was joined by Human Rights Watch, the International Center for Transitional Justice, and the International Federation for Human Rights in its criticism of the decree.

ENDS


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