Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

No Right Turn: Two Years Is Still Too Long

No Right Turn:

Two Years Is Still Too Long


http://norightturn.blogspot.com

Two years ago today, Thomas Yadegary was arrested as an overstayer by the Immigration Service, and taken to Mount Eden Prison. He has been there ever since. He has not been charged or convicted of any crime. Instead, he is being held awaiting deportation after failing to win refugee status. As Yadegary fears for his life and has refused to sign an application for an Iranian passport, that deportation has not happened. Instead, he has been held without charge or trial for two years.

There are important differences from the case of Ahmed Zaoui. Zaoui was granted refugee status, Yadegary was refused it. Zaoui was held on the basis that he was a "security risk", Yadegary in an effort to coerce him into leaving. At the same time, the fundamental problem is the same: we have held a man without charge or trial for two years, and it shows every sign of continuing indefinitely. And this is an affront to our deepest values. In the 13th Century, the Magna Carta - the founding document of our democratic system - limited the King's powers of imprisonment, declaring that

No freemen shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.

The importance of this clause can be seen by the fact that it is the sole part of the Magna Carta surviving in New Zealand law. Since then, we've signed up to similar provisions against arbitrary detention in international human rights instruments and our own Bill of Rights Act.

Some would argue that the detention is not arbitrary. The government had good reason to initially detain Yadegary, and he is in prison by his own refusal to be deported. However, it is clear that he will not sign the required paperwork permitting deportation, meaning his detention is effectively indefinite. And there is clear precedent from the Zaoui case that this may render his detention arbitrary. According to Andrew and Petra Butler's The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act,

In Zaoui v Attorney-General [Habeas Corpus] all three members of the Court of Appeal accepted that an initially lawful immigration detention could become arbitrary for the purposes of s 22 of BORA (and hence unlawful so as to permit the granting of habeas corpus) if the purpose of detention could not be fulfilled and, as a result, the detainee would otherwise face indefinite or permanent detention if not released.

(Emphasis and link to judgement added. See particularly paragraphs 88, 90, 175, 222, and 267)

In Zaoui's case, the Court held that that condition had not yet been met, as the review of the Security Risk Certificate would provide an end to detention (however, they also put the government on notice that their patience was wearing thin). In Yadegary's case, it seems more likely that it will be. There is no review of his detention scheduled, and no end, unless he agrees to sign what is effectively his own death warrant. And that shows no sign of happening.

The question then is "how long is too long"? How long are we willing to imprison without charge simply to prove a point and show we're hard? I'm not sure of the exact time limit, but I am sure of one thing: two years is (still) too long.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 


Philip Temple: Hang On A Minute, Mate
Peter Dunne quietly omits some salient facts when arguing for retention of MMP’s coat-tailing provision that allows a party to add list seats if it wins one electorate and achieves more than 1% or so of the party vote... More>>


Cheap Grace And Climate Change: Australia And COP26

It was not for everybody, but the shock advertising tactics of the Australian comedian Dan Ilic made an appropriate point. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a famed coal hugger, has vacillated about whether to even go to the climate conference in Glasgow. Having himself turned the country’s prime ministerial office into an extended advertising agency, Ilic was speaking his language... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Funeral Rites For COVID Zero
It was such a noble public health dream, even if rather hazy to begin with. Run down SARS-CoV-2. Suppress it. Crush it. Or just “flatten the curve”, which could have meant versions of all the above. This created a climate of numerical sensitivity: a few case infections here, a few cases there, would warrant immediate, sharp lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, the closure of all non-vital service outlets... More>>


Dunne Speaks: Labour's High Water Mark
If I were still a member of the Labour Party I would be feeling a little concerned after this week’s Colmar Brunton public opinion poll. Not because the poll suggested Labour is going to lose office any time soon – it did not – nor because it showed other parties doing better – they are not... More>>



Our Man In Washington: Morrison’s Tour Of Deception

It was startling and even shocking. Away from the thrust and cut of domestic politics, not to mention noisy discord within his government’s ranks, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison could breathe a sign of relief. Perhaps no one would notice in Washington that Australia remains prehistoric in approaching climate change relative to its counterparts... More>>



Binoy Kampmark: Melbourne Quake: Shaken, Not Stirred

It began just after a news interview. Time: a quarter past nine. Morning of September 22, and yet to take a sip from the brewed Turkish coffee, its light thin surface foam inviting. The Australian city of Melbourne in its sixth lockdown, its residents fatigued and ravaged by regulations. Rising COVID-19 numbers, seemingly inexorable... More>>