Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Positive human rights culture? Yeah Right!

The Ahmed Zaoui case and the prisoner compensation kerfuffle shows that the Government does not give a stuff about Human Rights.

This from Question Time via NRT

Keith Locke: Is the Labour Government not somewhat ashamed that rather than advancing democratic rights it is taking court cases to stop human rights being taken into account, to keep Mr Zaoui in prison after 22 months, and to stop him having access to the media; and what possible reason is there for the Minister not to free Mr Zaoui now, so that he can live in our society with his family?

Well, why doesn't Swainey tell the UN that, then? The Government does not care about attacking human rights. Last year the United Nations Committee against Torture told the Government that "over-prolonged solitary confinement of asylum seekers [like Ahmed Zaoui] may amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The Government, in the Zaoui case, has breached the UNDR, namely Article 5, 9,10,11 and 14 at least and article 7, 9 ,10 and 14 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights

And yet it has the audacity to desire to pass the Civil Union Bill to ensure we have a "positive Human Rights culture". Ha. It will take a lot more than passing a gay marriage bill to ensure we have a positive human rights culture.

Why is the Government so selective on which Human Rights it wants to uphold? We never hear of our Government addressing issues with prisoner beatings or ill-treating Zaoui in the name of "creating a positive human rights culture", do we. Some say Zaoui shouldn't have been allowed in the country in the first place.

The Government is quite happy to provide tens of thousands of dollars to keep each prisoner in prison, breach international human rights conventions through ill-treatment of some, then use more of our money to pay them compensation because of abuse dealt by staff in the Corrections Department - but not so keen on giving the prisoners' initial victims a share.

Now I'm all for giving prisoners compensation, but I do think that some of the compensation must go to victims,particularly when initial reparation is hardly ever ordered (or enforced) by the courts as often the victim does not have the means to pay.

But when they have the means to pay, they should pay, especially as it's our taxes that are paying for it.

State law and restorative justice should not be held hostage by the Government in its hasty adherance to some International laws while ignoring others even when reprimanded by the UN for doing so.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dave
I wrote to the papers and several occaisions on this issue.

We have a great program with the UNHCR and accept 750 people a year plus expect another 3-6 people per refugee in the following 5 yrs after they come as "family repatriation".
Though the latter the Govt doesn't really want to highlight.

My point was we have a system and people in place working very hard with limited resources.
Allowing "illegals" to stay makes
1. a mockery of all that work
2. nulifys the system
3. makes us a target for people movers

A. We should rather put more money into helping those we do except intergrate better, lifeskills, education/retraining as we have an obligation to them by inviting them in.

B. increase the numbers per year but must do A above first.

Zaoui is not a stupid man, far from it.
It is plain as day he had a plan and is executing it.
He has a working team to further his cause and had some contacts from day one.

If you read the transcripts from the investigate magazine He was involved with terrorists in some way despite all the spin his lawyers have put on the issue.

you don't share lodging with known terrorists in four different european countries including carrying false documents etc etc with clean hands.

He was found guilty in absentia becasue he ran (from liberal democracies France, Switz, Belgium) if he had stayed and answetred the charges he would have gone to jail as he was guilty.

lets get real here. put the fluff aside.

He is a criminal.
he came with false documents and lied to get in.
send him back and all the others to last prot of embarkation.
full stop no exceptions.

if he is geniune then he can apply at a UN office.
There are offices in Malaysia and it is a "Nice muslim country".
at least that is what Helen Clark would have us believe.

so lets send him back and all the tax payers money being used for him can go to those refugees waiting in the system.

Greyshade said...

Ahmed Zaoui has been accepted as a bona fide refugee by due process and the only thing keeping him from being released is the security risk certificate. We can't blame him for exercising his tights of appeal when he has won the overwhelming majority of those appeals and, in particular the courts have found that the process which the Govt was planning to use to review that certificate would have been illegally deficient and administered by an Inspector General who has been disqualified. Whatever the merits of Zaoui's personal case the effect of these appeals has been to uphold the rule of law and human rights in NZ against a serious threar.

Zaoui is an Algerian patriot belonging to an organisation committed to peaceful restoration of Algerian democracy. There are other organisation committed to the same goal but less elective about the means by which they advance it. It is hardly surprising that there should be contact between emigre members of these organisations but such associations fall far short of the terrorist activity or assistance to terrorists that would be required to justify the security certificate.

Anonymous said...

The reason the Government is like this is that Civil Unions are for New Zealanders, and those who are legally entitled to be here. Ahmed Zaoui is not legally here and he has no effect on election day, so the Government can afford to ignore his rights - he's not a NZ'er.

That said, the fact that remains is that the Government has secret and/or classified information on the activities of Mr. Zaoui. Therefore, as we don't know the content of that information, we can't possibly pass judgment on him either way. I posted a similar comment on the site, but never really got a reply.

A good start though is to read up on Algeria's history and go through the newspaper reports in the 1990's on Algeria, that may give you an idea of the circumstances surrounding Ahmed Zaoui, but I don't guarantee you will find out everything.

Greyshade said...

The problem with secret evidence is its "Trust me" nature. If the Inspector General honestly applies the criteria specified by the Court of Appeal and still upholds the certificate then we may have to conclude that there is "something we don't know." But it's very hard to imagine what there could be that is so secret it couldn't even be disclosed in summary. We still have to trust Justice Neazor to do his job fairly and thoroughly and there'll always be a question mark over any decision to uphold the certificate (justice and secrecy are simply not compatible) but the situation is vastly better tha it would have been without the courts' interventions.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Amnesty International's stance on this
issue, and also wrote an article on Algeria's plight
for Chaff in 2001, before the Zaoui situation blew up.
Although I back the Clark administration on most issues, this isn't one of them.

If reassessment of the original security risk criteria proves that Mr Zaoui has been imprisoned without due cause, then he should be released, receive an official apology, and government compensation.


Anonymous said...

change the law retrospectively
send him back to malaysia
never let him back again.

send every one who comes illigally back on next flight or ship.
insist on using the UN system.

no papers, no entry, goodbye.