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Maori Party Welcomes Decision on Ahmed Zaoui

Maori Party Welcomes Decision on Ahmed Zaoui

Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader of the Maori Party

Thursday 13 September 2007

The Maori Party has today welcomed the decision made by the Director of Security to withdraw the security risk certificate against the Algerian refugee, Ahmed Zaoui.

“His quiet dignity and sense of presence has impressed many New Zealanders - and made the decision that the Government took in choosing to ignore the 2003 ruling of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority even more questionable” said Dr Sharples, Justice Spokesperson for the Maori Party.

The Refugee Status Appeals Authority concluded Ahmed Zaoui should have been granted asylum as a genuine refugee.

“We truly commend the dedicated and sustained efforts by people like Deborah Manning; Rodney Harrison, Keith Locke, Dr Clive Aspin and organisations such as Amnesty International, in standing up for the rights of Mr Zaoui to be protected as a refugee” said Dr Sharples.

“We know too, that the NGO reports to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination brought to the attention of the United Nations, New Zealand’s flawed performance as regards the detention of asylum seekers, the security risk certificate process and in particular the case of Mr Zaoui” said Dr Sharples.

“It is just over a month ago, that the report of that Committee noted its concerns and urged New Zealand to comply with international standards” said Dr Sharples.

“The Maori Party hopes that this Government learns from their ill thought through and precipitous action in the way in which they have treated Mr Zaoui” said Dr Sharples.

“Yet again, Government has been prepared to act in a way which is unjust and has denied basic human rights – just as they are preparing to do with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People at this very moment”.

“We certainly expect a full apology to be made to Mr Zaoui and hope that speedy reunification with his family will now be possible” said Dr Sharples.


Background

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in their report of 15 August 2007 noted with concern that asylum-seekers may be detained in correctional facilities, even though such detention only concerns a very few individuals.

The Committee recommended that the State Party put an end to the practice of detaining asylum-seekers in correctional facilities, and ensure that grounds upon which asylum may be refused remain in compliance with international standards, especially the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

[Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; seventieth session, 30 July – 17 August 2007]


ENDS

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