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Zaoui

Entry 100, on 2004-12-09 at 16:09:25 (Rating 2, Politics)

In New Zealand today the supreme court is deciding whether an Algerian refugee, Ahmed Zaoui, should be allowed bail. He has been imprisoned, without charge, for about two years. The Security Intelligence Service has issued a security risk certificate against him, which is basically a way of restricting someone without having any public evidence.

I personally think that holding someone without charging them is unacceptable, even if there is suspicions that person is associated with terrorism (and that's doubtful in Zaoui's case). We can't expect to criticise the less intolerant regimes in the world if we are guilty of the same crimes of intolerance ourself.

The Government and SIS claim that the reasons for detaining Zaoui can't be discussed because the sources must be protected and it would detract from New Zealand's reputation with its allies. No doubt there is some truth in this, but I think we should look at the bigger picture.

People are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, and New Zealand has committed to international standards on the treatment of refugees. In that case there are two possible options: either Zaoui should be at least released on bail, if not released completely; or the evidence against him should be presented through the usual public forums, presumably the courts.

Paranoia and draconian rules and regulations seem to be common since the 9/11 attacks but I think we should be careful not to let the real or imagined terrorist threat become an excuse for tighter controls over all of us.

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