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"We are a better country than this" - Tom Scott

"We are a better country than this" - Tom Scott

For attention of: CHIEFS OF STAFF

Monday 8 December 2003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

"We are a better country than this" - Tom Scott

High-profile New Zealanders demand respect for Ahmed Zaoui's human rights

Public meetings in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch next week will see high profile New Zealanders joining with human rights organisations in questioning the NZ government's commitment to promoting and protecting human rights in NZ.

The meetings occur as the country waits to hear the outcome of a judicial review into Algerian refugee Ahmed Zaoui's case.

"I very rarely comment about public issues like this, but I am outraged by this country's treatment of Mr Zaoui to date. We are a better country than this" said cartoonist Tom Scott.

Well-known personalities such as cartoonist Tom Scott and former Race Relations Conciliator Gregory Fortuin will join human rights organisations and Mr Zaoui's legal team in urging the Government to ensure he receives the fair trial in New Zealand that he has been denied since fleeing Algeria in 1992.

"If this government is serious about the commitments it has made to creating a world-leading human rights environment, it must ensure that Mr Zaoui receives a fair trial" said Amnesty International spokesperson John Shaw.

"New Zealand has a proud history of championing human rights internationally, and our reputation may be seriously undermined if Mr Zaoui is not afforded those same human rights" Mr Shaw said. Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, the Anglican Social Justice Commission, and Amnesty International say that his case is a test of the government's commitment to the right to a fair trial, and the right to be free from torture ? a test the country can not afford to fail.

The organisations say that the support received from high-profile New Zealanders is heartening, and illustrates the mounting concern in our society over how Mr Zaoui is being treated.

The High Court has been considering whether Mr Zaoui will be allowed a summary of the classified information held against him, and whether human rights must be a consideration in the Inspector-General's review of the security risk certificate issued against him.

Public Meetings

WELLINGTON: Venue The Loaves and the Fishes, cnr Molesworth Street and Hill Street, Thorndon (next to the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul) Date Tuesday 9 December, 6pm to 8pm Speakers John Shaw, Amnesty International; Fr Gerard Burns, Chairman, Wellington Catholic Archdiocese JPD Commission; Tom Scott, cartoonist; Gregory Fortuin, former Race Relations Conciliator; Deborah Manning, Ahmed Zaoui's lawyer; Richard McLeod, Ahmed Zaoui's lawyer; Ashraf Farouk, President of the International Muslim Federation of New Zealand

AUCKLAND: Venue Aotea Square, Queen Street Date Wednesday 10 December, 11.30am-2.30pm

CHRISTCHURCH: Venue Christchurch East School Hall, cnr Barbadoes & Goucester St Date Thursday 11 December, 7.45pm Speakers Dr David Small, Canterbury University Lecturer; Deborah Manning, Ahmed Zaoui's lawyer; Richard McLeod, Ahmed Zaoui's lawyer; Amnesty International.

For information and background on Ahmed Zaoui's case and the human rights implications please visit: www.amnesty.org.nz


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