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Amnesty Welcomes Supreme Court Zaoui Decision

25 November 2004

Amnesty Welcomes Supreme Court Zaoui Decision

Amnesty International has welcomed the Supreme Court’s conclusion that further delays in deciding whether Algerian refugee Ahmed Zaoui should be transferred from prison or granted bail would be “oppressive”. “Amnesty International has been calling for Ahmed Zaoui’s case to be subjected to a fair process since December 2002, and has been baffled by the Government’s reluctance to agree,” said the executive director of Amnesty’s NZ section,

Ced Simpson. “Mr Zaoui should have been able to have the security risk certificate against him reviewed, with procedures meeting the standards set by the European Court of Human Rights, in the months following the decision recognising him as a genuine refugee in August last year.” “It is not his fault that he has been left languishing in prison for all this time at considerable human and financial cost.” “The courts have clearly questioned the handling of the Zaoui case, and the Supreme Court has now added its voice to those who have called for the whole process to be, and be seen to be, less arbitrary and unfair.”

“It has not been acceptable that senior members of the Government have continued to mislead the public by suggesting he has been free to leave at any time, when they know they have a moral as well as international legal obligation to ensure he is not returned to a place of potential danger.”

Mr Simpson said that the case continues to raise the important question of “What sort of ‘security risk’ does the Government consider outweighs Ahmed Zaoui's right to asylum as a refugee?” “Does the Government agree with the Court of Appeal conclusion that the continued detention or deportation of Ahmed Zaoui can only be justified ‘if there are objectively reasonable grounds based on credible evidence that Zaoui constitutes...a danger of substantial threatened harm to the security of New Zealand’ rather than, for example, ‘a threat to international reputation with like-minded countries’?”

ENDS

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