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Prime Minister Bamboozles Kim Hill On Zaoui

Prime Minister Bamboozles Kim Hill

By Kevin List

"Well it is hardly Guantanamo Bay!" – The Prime Minister explains why her Government's handling of the Zaoui case has been humane and within the law on Wednesday night's Face to Face with Kim Hill

On Wednesday's Face to Face with Kim Hill programme on Television One, the Prime Minister Helen Clark assured Kim Hill that former immigration minister, Lianne Dalziel was not talking about the Refugee Status Appeals Authority in a speech from 2003 – even though Dalziel quite clearly was.

After a rather testy discussion regarding detained refugee Ahmed Zaoui in which the Prime Minister had been critical of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority - Ms Hill pointed out that the RSAA had been vigorously championed by the former immigration minister, Lianne Dalziel.

Kim Hill: By the way I don’t need to lecture you on the Refugee Status Appeals Authority. I’ll let your former immigration minister, Lianne Dalziel do it. Because last year she said:

" In the field of refugee law the jurisprudence of our refugee status appeals authority is second to none"

Helen Clark: Oh she didn’t say that with respect to the [Refugee Status Appeals] Authority. She talked about the refugee status determination process and that is the stage which is done in the later part. The Labour Department did the initial determination on Mr Zaoui, it actually turned down his application and it was at that point it went to appeal.

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Despite the assurances of the Prime Minister that Lianne Dalziel didn't attribute her quote to the Refugee Status Appeals Authority, the fact is she did, and the entire speech is available on the official Beehive website and also Scoop.

Beehive Link - http://www.beehive.govt.nz/ViewDocument.cfm?DocumentID=16859
Scoop Link - http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/PA0305/S00491.htm

The Speech was titled "Beyond Tampa" and delivered in May 2003 to the Auckland District Law Society’s Refugee & Immigration Committee in Auckland.

The quote came near the end of Ms Dalziel's speech and related to New Zealand's proud standing as a world leader regarding refugee issues.

" I believe that New Zealand has a valuable contribution to make in local, regional and international terms with respect to refugee issues. In the field of refugee law, the jurisprudence of our Refugee Status Appeal Authority is second to none, and claims are dealt with much more quickly today than they were. Our commitment to the UNHCR Resettlement Programme sees us as one of fewer than 20 countries in the world making that contribution. Our willingness to participate in regional and international forums identifies NZ as part of the solution. Our refugee resettlement programme has seen significant improvements over the past three years. And we are committed to supporting international conflict resolution and the promotion of international human rights, to combat the evils of persecution and terror that drive people from their country of origin."

Kim Hill prepares to launch another verbal onslaught upon the Prime Minister


Prime Minister Wants Process Reviewed Following Million Dollar Legal Battle

Other insights that emerged from the debate between the Prime Minister and Kim Hill were that the Security Risk Certificate process was flawed and would be reviewed.

Helen Clark: I’d prefer a process which enabled a speedy outcome. When this case is through that process will be reviewed. But it is not appropriate in the middle of the case.

Solicitor –General Terence Arnold earns some of the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid out to Crown lawyers to enable them to fight human rights decisions and keep Mr Zaoui in penal detention.

Interestingly later in the debate Kim Hill pointed out that much of the delay in the process had been caused by the Government appealing earlier decisions - such as the High Court decision that meant the Inspector General was required to take Mr Zaoui's human rights into account (December 2003) and the recent Court of Appeal Decision October 2004) re-confirming this.

Kim Hill: No, but you are pushing the appeals against the existing decisions.

Helen Clark: The Government wants the law clarified and it is entitled to have it clarified because the Court of Appeal has come up with a rather different understanding from that on which authorities operate.

Thus by the Prime Minister's reasoning it is worth clarifying at great expense a flawed process that presumably will only ever be used once. However whilst the Zaoui case continues for perhaps years, it is presumably still possible for the Director of Security to issue more security risk certificates should he deem it necessary.

Sadly this aspect of the ongoing farce that is the Zaoui case was never discussed by Ms Hill. It was also strange that Ms Hill seemed to have no idea why the Director of Security had issued a security risk certificate.

Kim Hill: Do we know why?

Helen Clark: I’m reasonably well briefed on it and I won’t be giving you a full briefing here tonight.

Kim Hill: Do you think that Mr Zaoui knows why?

Helen Clark: I think he has a fair idea.

Anyone that could be bothered google searching Scoop using the words Zaoui and SIS summary would also have a fair idea. Should utilising the Scoop search engine prove to difficult here is the direct link to the Director of Security's unclassified summary of allegations regarding Mr Zaoui.

SIS summary of allegations against Ahmed Zaoui - http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0402/S00181.htm

A full transcript of the interview between the Prime Minister and Kim Hill regarding the case of Ahmed Zaoui will follow later today. This particular episode of Face to Face with Kim Hill will be repeated on Saturday 20 November 2004 at 8am.

**** ENDS ****

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