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Secrecy of Zaoui hearing compromises fairness

July 9 2007

Secrecy of Zaoui hearing compromises fairness

The Human Rights Foundation is concerned that the secrecy of the review of Algerian refugee Ahmed Zaoui’s security risk certificate will compromise the hearing’s fairness. The review starts today, 9 July, behind closed doors.

“Mr.Zaoui still does not know what the allegations against him are,” says Peter Hosking, the Foundation’s Executive Secretary, pointing out that the certificate was issued more than four years ago, in March 2003.

Inspector General of the Security Intelligence Service, Justice Paul Neazor, is to review the decision made by the Director of the SIS to issue the certificate.

Although an independent Special Advocate will be able to view the classified information held by the SIS, the Advocate cannot communicate with Mr. Zaoui or his counsel. ‘It’s impossible to defend yourself adequately if you don’t know what you’re supposed to have done, “said Peter Hosking.

“New Zealand has long been a place where everyone is entitled to a fair hearing,” he said. “Mr. Zaoui’s hearing is still not what most people would understand as a fair process”.

The Human Rights Foundation will be present outside the hearing today to remind the parties that of the importance of Mr Zaoui receiving a fair go.

”Mr Zaoui was judged by the independent Refugee Status Appeals Authority to be a genuine refugee entitled to protection here, despite objections by the SIS,” says Peter Hosking.

“The RSAA expressed surprise at how limited the material was that the SIS presented about Mr Zaoui,” said Peter Hosking. “It is essential that this review ensures that SIS allegations are subjected to robust scrutiny and that Mr Zaoui is given an adequate opportunity to challenge SIS claims,” he said.


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