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Zaoui: Human Rights Commission Seeks Involvement

Human Rights Commission Applies As Intervener In Zaoui Case

The Human Rights Commission today applied to the High Court in Auckland for leave to appear as an "Intervener" in the case of asylum seeker Ahmed Zaoui.

The application is made in accordance with s.5(2)(j) of the Human Rights Act 1993.

The Commission is applying to appear in order to assist the Court to identify and assess the implications of the relevant international human rights instruments that may have a bearing on the case.

The Commission previously applied to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Justice Laurie Greig, to appear and be heard at his review of a decision of the Director of Security to issue a security Risk Certificate against Mr Zaoui. In his interlocutory decision of 6 October 2003, the Inspector-General declined the Commission's application.

Human Rights Chief Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan says the Commission does not usually become involved in individual immigration cases because there exists a discrete set of processes including independent review and appeal authorities. In addition, the Human Rights Act limits the extent to which the Commission may become involved in immigration cases.

"In this particular case there are significant human rights issues involved. In particular, the issue of balancing the fundamental human rights of the individual and matters of national security. This case involves the rights of refugees and asylum seekers and national security.

"The Commission wants to ensure that the applicable international instruments and human rights standards are identified and applied in this case, and that these standards are recognised at all steps of the legal process.

"This is the first instance in which a security risk certificate has been reviewed in the context of a refugee case. The Commission wants to ensure that a rigorous process is followed and that guidelines incorporating the relevant human rights standards are put in place for any future cases."

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