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Zaoui law change must not be rushed

14 December 2004

Zaoui law change must not be rushed

Green MP Keith Locke is strongly opposed to any attempt to rush through changes to the Security Risk Certificate procedure in the Immigration Act.

"The application of the Security Risk Certificate to Ahmed Zaoui has resulted in so many violations to his human rights that any law change can only follow a wide process of public consultation that absorbs all the lessons of his case," said Mr Locke, the Green Party's Human Rights Spokesperson.

"Mr Zaoui's release from prison could be an opportunity for the Government to reflect on the last two years and change direction towards a more just and humane national security and immigration system, but instead it is trying to find a quicker and more efficient route to the same unjust outcome.

"Clearly a rushed law change would be dangerous while the Government continues to deny its failure to give Mr Zaoui due process, the chance to see evidence against him or the right to bail.

"Ominously, the Prime Minister now wants to take away the bail option in obvious contravention to the centuries-old principle of habeas corpus. Hasn't she any shame after unjustly keeping an Algerian democrat in jail for two years without charge?

"On top of this, the Government is persisting with an appeal to the Supreme Court to stop Mr Zaoui's human rights applying in the Security Risk Certificate review process.

"Altogether, this is a dangerous push to expand Executive power at the expense of long-standing judicial oversight in security matters. This will undermine the civil liberties of us all.

"The Green Party wants the Security Risk Certificate section of the Immigration Act to be repealed. New Zealand coped perfectly well without it prior to its implementation in 1999 and there is still no compelling reason why regular, apolitical criminal law cannot deal with terrorism.

"The Security Risk Certificate wrongly gives the Immigration Minister the power to determine the fate of a refugee like Mr Zaoui, thereby bringing into play a government's political agenda, such as keeping on side with 'like-minded countries', to use the words in the SIS's summary of allegations against Mr Zaoui.

"There is no problem with national security issues being dealt with by the judiciary or quasi-judicial bodies like the Refugee Status Appeals Authority. They can hear sensitive information in confidence, if necessary, as happens in some overseas jurisdictions," said Mr Locke.

ENDS


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