Allowing the Zaoui family to reunite in New Zealand is hardly a security problem, the Green Party’s Human Rights Spokesperson Keith Locke says.
He was responding to Immigration Minister Paul Swain’s comment on the application from Ahmed Zaoui’s wife Leila and their four sons to move to New Zealand to be with him. Mr Swain was quoted today as saying the application would not be considered until after Mr Zaoui’s status was resolved.
“I call on Mr Swain to show the true face of Kiwi compassion and allow Leila and the boys to join their husband and father as soon as possible,” Mr Locke says.
“Allowing a long-separated family to get together can’t possibly represent any security danger to New Zealand.
“Mr Zaoui himself is on bail and able to move freely around New Zealand. Last week I visited Nelson with him, where he was warmly received. However, there was a touch of sadness when he chatted to the children at his Nelson meetings; they so reminded him of his absent sons.
“The Government owes the Zaouis special consideration, because the two-and-a-half-year separation is largely due to the deficiencies in the Security Risk Certificate process — which even the Government admits need to be changed.
“Our Government also unnecessarily incarcerated Mr Zaoui for two years, ten months of that in solitary confinement.
“Also, given that his family is irrelevant to the security risk assessment process Mr Zaoui faces, their application should only be considered in light of his refugee status, which was granted by the Refugee Status Appeals Authority in August 2003. On that basis, it would normally be fairly straightforward for a family to be reunited.
“Such a move would not set a precedent for anyone else coming through our security risk process; it’s already clearly understood that Mr Zaoui’s case is unique and will not be repeated because its problematic, drawn-out nature has prompted a planned review of the system once the Zaoui determination is complete.
“Mr Zaoui himself is an asset to our society in his promotion of religious understanding and tolerance. He has been drawing big crowds to his lectures on Islam, the West and human rights.
“There is simply no good reason why Mr Zaoui’s wife and children can’t be with him. What about a bit of human feeling for Mr Zaoui’s family, Mr Swain?”