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Ahmed Zaoui: Justice Delayed is Justice Denied


10th July 2006

Ahmed Zaoui: Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

Amnesty International today called on the Immigration Minister to abide by the 2003 decision to grant Ahmed Zaoui asylum in New Zealand if the Government could not ensure a prompt and fair review of the security risk certificate issued against him.
The first hearing relating to the review was scheduled to begin in Auckland on 7 August, but the Inspector General, former Justice Paul Neazor, said today that more time was needed before the hearings can begin because "this is the first time we have been through this process in New Zealand [and] the issues are complex and difficult."

"The Immigration Act requires the Inspector-General to undertake the risk certificate review 'with all reasonable speed and diligence' " said Amnesty International's NZ Director, Ced Simpson.

"The public is entitled to know why hearings on the review have not begun almost three years after the NZ Refugee Status Appeals Authority decided Mr Zaoui is a refugee entitled to asylum in New Zealand. Justice delayed is justice denied."

Amnesty International has been calling for Ahmed Zaoui's case to be subjected to a speedy and fair process since December 2002, and has consistently pointed to the human rights standards that should apply in such security-related cases.

Mr Simpson asked whether the Government had allocated sufficient resources to the Inspector General to carry out his duties, pointing to a reduction in his budget from $172,000 to $112,000.

"If the Government cannot ensure a prompt and fair hearing for Mr Zaoui, the Immigration Minister should withdraw reliance on the Security Risk Certificate, as he is entitled to do under the Immigration Act , and end a saga that has caused anguish to Mr Zaoui and his family and increasing embarrassment to New Zealand."

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