A fortnightly Green Bulletin of News, Action and Analysis
DISAPPOINTING OUTCOME IN THE KENDALL-SMITH CASE.
Commenting on the
outcome of the court martial of Flight-Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith for refusing to serve in Iraq, Green Defence spokesperson Keith Locke said to the Sunday Star Times –
“I’m disappointed at the outcome, however I think Flight-Lieutenant Kendall-Smith has a good chance on appeal. Judge Jack Bayliss acted in a high-handed and unjust way in excluding evidence on whether the British and American occupation forces are acting according to international law.
“It was simplistic and wrong for Judge Bayliss to rule that the British troop presence was legal because of covering UN resolutions. The key legal point is whether the British and US occupation forces are abiding by provisions in UN resolutions to abide by the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law.
“Kendall-Smith could have proved they weren’t if his witnesses, former SAS soldier Ben Griffen and an Iraqi doctor, had been able to outline how the conduct of the war was abusing the rights of both Iraqi civilians and prisoners – contrary to the UN requirements.
“We should be proud of how our fellow New Zealander is pushing a moral antiwar argument in the teeth of criticism from the British establishment, at considerable cost to himself.
“I have sent him a message of support, wishing him well in his appeal.”
A SUPPORT MESSAGE TO MALCOLM KENDALL-SMITH
was also sent by Keith Locke on April 11, on the eve of his court martial.
“I applaud Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith’s strong moral stance, and his willingness to challenge the legality of the continuing war in Iraq,” said Keith.
“Today I sent a message to Mr Kendall-Smith wishing him success at his court-martial.”
The British and American forces in Iraq, in the Green Party’s view, have contravened UN resolutions, such as SC 1546 (2004) which required them ‘to act in accordance with international law, including obligations under international humanitarian law’.
“Clearly, the occupation forces have violated the rules of war, such as in the initial assault on Fallujah, where there were huge civilian casualties and much of the city was left in ruins.”
“Prisoners have been systematically maltreated, at Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere, by the occupation forces and their Iraqi associates.
“I am proud of my compatriot, Flight Lieutenant Kendall-Smith, in courageously challenging the legality of the war regardless of the personal consequences.”
NO NEED TO GO DOWN US ROAD AND CLAMP DOWN ON MIGRANTS
The immigration review signals an unfortunate extension of powers of arrest and detention to highly fallible immigration officials and security agencies, at the expense of migrants and refugees, Green Party MP Keith Locke says
“New Zealand should be a welcoming country, not one where bureaucrats have greater powers of surveillance and detention,” said Mr Locke.
“If the report’s worst options are chosen, refugees and migrants will have a lot less rights than they do now.
“There will be potential for injustice if appeal procedures are reduced. “This is particularly true for those who have classified intelligence material against them. Under the new proposal they will be “outski” without being able to see or challenge the prejudicial material or mount and appeal.
“We have seen in the Zaoui case, and during the WMD fiascos in Iraq, that simply trusting governments and their security services to get it right is no longer acceptable.
“The review also proposing unnecessary invasive surveillance measures including identification by iris and facial recognition scanning and fingerprinting. We don’t need to follow George Bush’s America to a ‘big brother’ society.
” As a balance to the extension of these state powers, refugees should be given legal aid to challenge their detention, as former Minister Lianne Dalziel indicated years ago. I am disappointed that this balancing measure has not been addressed.”
“The new detention powers are unnecessary and worrying. The job of immigration officials is to talk to new arrivals, not act as their jailers. We want New Zealand to be known as a caring country, not one where the first people that the new arrival meets have detention powers.
See Keith Locke’s op-ed in the Analysis section for more information.
EXPRESS YOUR SUPPORT FOR MALCOLM KENDALL SMITH
by signing the on-line petition on the Military Families Against the War site –
. You can also make a donation to the fund to set up to help pay his legal costs there, and read more about the case.
HUMAN RIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL, MAY 2006
WELLINGTON, MAY 3-10; Paramount Theatre;
AUCKLAND, MAY 11-18, Academy Theatre;
CHRISTCHURCH, MAY 17 — 21, Regent Theatre
The programme includes the inspirational Breaking Bows and Arrows: Search for Reconciliation and Forgiveness; the frightening no holds barred documentary about California’s reproduction dream world Frozen Angels; and the true account of an Indian family who would rather drown than allow the destruction of their land, home and culture in Drowned Out. Get the details at
Op-ed by Keith Locke in the Sunday Star Times
, April 9 2006, in response to the Government’s proposed changes to immigration law.
Do we want New Zealand to be a country where immigration officials have the power to enter and search homes without a warrant, to seize and hold people for four days also without warrant, to conduct four hour interviews without a police officer being present, and to demand iris scans and DNA samples? This week’s government discussion paper on the Immigration Act review takes us back to the days of dawn raids – where Pacific island communities were at the mercy of over-zealous officials.
Obviously, we all want New Zealand to be a safe and desirable place. We also need to attract migrants here, if we are going to be prosperous in future. There is nothing wrong with the goal of streamlining our immigration procedures, and our immigration laws. My disappointment with what Immigration Minister David Cunliffe has released this week is that it reads more like a Christmas wish-list of sweeping powers to immigration officials. There has been no real attempt to balance these extensions of state power with the safeguards necessary to prevent their abuse. No evidence has been offered to show the scale of the problem to justify the draconian solutions being suggested. Migrants and their advocates have now been left to fight a rearguard action, to put some protection of civil liberties back into this document, before public submissions close on June 14.
It is particularly odd that the government has chosen to remain wilfully naïve about the reliability of security information. In recent years, US congressional committees and the Butler Report in Britain have found that we need to be very careful about how we gather, analyse and verify classified information – given that its normal traffic routinely contains third hand hearsay, often from dubious sources.
Yet the Government proposes to expand the use of classified information – which in future, is ” to be used in all decision-making without being disclosed to the applicant.” True, an “independent” appeal process is mentioned, but how can any applicant mount a successful appeal when the evidence for the allegations against them is kept hidden, and no legal aid is available to them?
Also, the ” classified” information in question is not merely security services material. Other types of damaging information – say from a spiteful spouse, or business rival, that has been supplied confidentially – can also, under these proposals, be treated as relevant by immigration officials without being accessible or open to challenge by the applicant.
If the SIS Inspector-General is to be public’s watchdog about all this, how is his office to be expanded ? Already, there are grave doubts about whether the office has the expertise and resources to investigate and crosscheck the evidence in the Zaoui case, let alone to meet this expanded brief.
Similar doubts swirl around the proposals to scrap the Refugee Status Appeals Authority – so annoying to the Government over the Zaoui case – and merge it into one appeals authority. On paper, that looks great. Four into one, saves lots of money. Yet will the RSAA’s high international reputation survive the transition ? The Refugee Convention is a complex area of law, and unless the expertise of the RSAA is imported wholesale into the single new body, its quality will suffer.
Would the Government care? Maybe not. Astonishingly, Mr Cunliffe has said about these proposals that ” It takes too long and costs way too much to make a fair process work.” Fairness would cost too much ? Justice on the cheap, Mr Cunliffe, is not justice.
Nor is it compassionate. In its proposals to streamline the appeals process, the Government is seeking to restrict the right of appeal only to those people who have been here for two years, and who have a sponsor. The “complementary appeal” grounds for humanitarian appeal available overseas – where people denied refugee status are not sent back to places where their lives would be at risk – is not included here. That omission could well create a fresh round of costly litigation, as such people try to claim protection under UN conventions.
It all seems so out of balance. Clearly, New Zealand is not immune to terrorism or the possibility that undesirables may wish to live here. Some sense of proportion though – and hard evidence – is needed before we impose on ourselves the whole US kitbag of invasive bio-metric surveillance measures, such as iris and facial recognition scanning. Lets leave that to George W. Bush. The biggest number of over-stayers in New Zealand are actually from the United Kingdom and other developed countries. We are not under siege from refugees and would-be terrorists. We do however face a genuine threat from agencies that want to expand their powers, at the expense of our liberties.
JustPeace is produced by Christine Dann, Hannah Scott and Keith Locke, MP
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