Zaoui delays mean family should be re-united here now

Immigration Minister David Cunliffe’s admission that the review of the national security case against Algerian MP Ahmed Zaoui will not start before June 2007 should compel Mr Cunliffe to allow the Zaoui family to be re-united here in the meantime, Green Party Human Rights Spokesperson Keith Locke says.

“Mr Cunliffe has admitted to the Greens via a Parliamentary written question that the review is currently expected to occur between June and August, almost a year after the last postponement,” Mr Locke says.

“These delays take the review beyond the term of the current Inspector-General Paul Neazor, whose term expires in June. Mr Neazor turns 74 this year. The Zaoui case is already onto its second SIS Director and second SIS Inspector-General, with no guarantee Mr Neazor will want to commit for another full three year term.

“A special accommodation — Mr Neazor seeing out the case and then retiring — may be necessary, or a new Inspector-General trained up.

“This latest delay is an outrage. Cumulatively, the delays would seem to contravene section 114(3) of the Immigration Act, which requires reviews by the SIS Inspector-General to be conducted ‘with all reasonable speed and diligence.’

“The delay also amounts to a virtual perversion of justice. How can Mr Zaoui repeatedly arrange for as many as nine international defence witnesses to travel here to testify, and then re-schedule them all again, simply because the SIS has once more failed to file its evidence properly, within the agreed timetable?

“Over three years ago, the High Court ordered the SIS to give Mr Zaoui a summary of its allegations against him, and its reasoning. In July 2006, the review had to be aborted because the SIS hadn’t done the proper paperwork in time. It still hasn’t. As at Christmas 2006, Mr Zaoui’s defence team had still not received a full summary of the allegations, so that it can know what it needs to rebut.

“Mr Cunliffe should not continue to make Mr Zaoui and his wife and children suffer the consequences of this shameful incompetence. There is no reason why the family should not be re-united before the review. Mr Zaoui’s family are not security risks, and nor could their presence here affect the outcome of the review.

“Mr Zaoui’s family are U.N.refugees in their own right, and they meet the priority criteria for our annual refugee intake. Mrs. Zaoui and her children are a woman-headed family in a South East Asian country where they have no supportive kin, and one of the children has special needs. Mr Cunliffe should stop playing the bureaucrat, and exercise some compassion. The Zaoui family have been keep apart by our bungling security service for too long, and this latest delay cannot be justified or tolerated.”