Don’t make Zaoui the guinea pig

Green MP Keith Locke says that Prime Minister Helen Clark has opened the way to review the law which may be used to expel Algerian asylum seeker Ahmed Zaoui.

“We shouldn’t use Mr Zaoui as a guinea pig, imprisoning him for a year, to test legislation for flaws”, said Mr Locke, the party’s Foreign Affairs Spokesperson. “He has suffered enough, it’s obvious the Immigration Act breeches natural justice, let’s free him now and then overhaul this draconian legislation.”

The 1999 Immigration Act introduced Security Risk Certificates, and the information that they are issued on can only be reviewed by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security.

“The prejudicial comments of the present Inspector-General, Laurie Greig in the latest Listener, is a pertinent example of how we cannot trust one person, acting in secret, to get it right all of the time.

“The oversight of our intelligence agencies desperately needs more transparency and independence. At present there is the real risk that the Inspector-General could become captured by the very agencies he is supposed to be supervising, becoming more cheerleader than critic.

“The Terrorism Suppression Act 2002, for all its faults, does allow, in some circumstances, for those designated as terrorists to be provided with a summary of the classified information used against them. Zaoui has received no such summary.

“There would be nothing untoward in the Immigration Minister cancelling the Security Risk Certificate. It was Lianne Dalziel who imposed it in the first place, and under the 1999 law she can remove it at any time.

“Mr Zaoui should be allowed to stay here as a refugee, as the Refugee Status Appeals Authority has decided.

“From my study of the case, and the many discussions I have had with Mr Zaoui in prison, I believe we will find Mr Zaoui to be an asset to the country.

“He has suffered in prison for almost a year. Surely that is long enough,” said Mr Locke.