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Lawyers Release Allegations Agaist Zaoui

Statement by Ahmed Zaoui’s Lawyer Deborah Manning on Release of Summary Of Accusations

20 February 2004


The reason we have called a conference and released the summary this morning is an unusual step however the Zaoui case is an unusual case. We have taken this step given that the Minister of Immigration has chosen to reveal the existence of the Director’s summary on several occasions and when she did so she inferred our silence on the summary was significant and that we thought the summary was of concern.

This week, Crown Law contacted us and advised that several Ministries had been contacted requesting the summary under the Official Information Act. We then met with Ahmed Zaoui and his clear instructions were that he had nothing to hide and for us to release the document in full.

Today we will give you the full summary, our submission to the Prime Minister and Minister of Immigration on the summary and a copy of a home video tape which Ahmed brought into New Zealand of his trip here.


The High Court ruled that Mr Zaoui must be provided with a summary of the allegations against him. The Director of security has chosen to issue that summary.

There is nothing in the summary of allegations that has not already been considered and comprehensively dealt with by the Refugee Status Appeals Authority.

The reasoning of the Director to classify Ahmed Zaoui as a security risk is wholly inadequate and baseless and when boiled down amounts to a fear of how New Zealand’s reputation could be affected.

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Mr Zaoui has suffered through nearly 15 months of imprisonment without charge, 11 of those in solitary confinement and despite being granted refugee status is threatened with deportation to torture and death due to fear that New Zealand could be perceived as a “soft touch”.

We consider the National Security Risk Certificate in light of the RSAA decision to be wholly unjustified and we have written to the Prime Minister as Minister in Charge of Security and Intelligence and to the Minister of Immigration requesting that reliance on the security risk certificate is withdrawn.

Allegation 1: False passport We are very surprised to this as this has been dealt with before. As a recognized refugee Mr Zaoui cannot be penalized for using false travel papers. The Refugee Convention stipulates that refugees cannot be penalized for using false papers and the New Zealand Court of Appeal has also recognized this.

Allegation 2: Video tape This is a bizarre allegation. As will be obvious, Ahmed is neither and experienced nor competent videographer.

Ahmed filmed the video on his way to claim refugee status in New Zealand and it simply does not make any sense that he would bring in the type of video as suspected.

The question is: is this a casing video or a botched assessment of a badly made home movie – a viewing of the tape answers this question.

Allegation 3: SIS interview This allegation relates to an undisclosed question, an undisclosed answer and that it raises concerns for an undisclosed reason.

Ahmed was interviewed by a New Zealand SIS officer who learnt Arabic in Egypt. At times communication broke down between them due to the SIS officer’s Arabic and the SIS officer simultaneously wrote answers in English – a feat which our best interpreters cannot accomplish.

Allegations 4-6: European convictions These allegations related to France, Belgium and Switzerland. There is nothing new in these allegations and they have all already been comprehensively disposed of by the RSAA.

REASONING When boiled down, the Director’s reasoning is that if Ahmed Zaoui is allowed to stay, New Zealand could be considered as a “soft touch” by other countries and other people. It totally ignores New Zealand ’s already rigorous border controls.

The reasoning also overlooks the fact that Ahmed Zaoui’s treatment in New Zealand - 15 months of imprisonment without charge – 11 of those in solitary- could hardly be conceived as a soft touch.

The High Court made it clear that Mr Zaoui was to be provided a summary of the allegations and the basis on which they are made. We have no choice but to accept on good faith that this is a complete summary.

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