Green MP Keith Locke is angry that the Government is trying to block consideration of Ahmed Zaoui’s human rights.
The Government is appealing a High Court decision that the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security must take human rights legislation into account in his deliberations on Mr Zaoui’s case.
“It is shameful that a Labour government would go to such lengths to deny Mr Zaoui his human rights,” said Mr Locke, the party’s Security and Intelligence spokesperson.
“Mr Zaoui could well lose his case if his human rights are not taken into account. His continued presence could be defined as a threat to New Zealand’s “national security” if it affected our diplomatic relations with the Algerian regime.
“Such an outcome can only be guarded against by accepting Mr Zaoui’s right to criticise injustice in his homeland, as guaranteed under our Bill of Rights, and his right not to be returned to persecution or torture in Algeria, as guaranteed under the 1951 Refugee Convention and the Convention Against Torture.
“Any suggestion that the Minister of Immigration can prevent such an injustice is laughable. The Immigration Act specifically prevents her from giving adequate consideration of such matters. Before she signs a Security Risk Certificate she is only permitted an “oral briefing” from the SIS Director, which “may not be recorded”. After the Inspector-General reviews the Certificate she is only allowed three days to accept or reject it.
“She simply doesn’t have time to adequately assess the detail of Mr Zaoui’s case and what would happen to him if he returned to Algeria. She would inevitably rely on the Inspector-General’s determination because he would have spent months on the case and heard and cross-examined Mr Zaoui and many witnesses. However, the Inspector-General’s report will be fatally flawed because it will not take into account a critical element: Mr Zaoui’s human rights.
“The outcome could be what many people have feared, that Mr Zaoui could be kicked out of New Zealand, not because he has done anything wrong, but because it serves our perceived diplomatic interests.
“This government is showing an appalling disregard for human rights and no compassion for Mr Zaoui. He is already suffering severe mental stress from his 14 months in jail and the Government is causing him even more anguish by taking this appeal,” said Mr Locke.