Urging the Government to urgently consider the situation of Ahmed Zaoui who has been held without charge in custody for almost two years.
In December 2002 Ahmed Zaoui arrived in New Zealand and sought refugee status. He has now been held in custody for almost two years, first in solitary confinement in Paremoremo Maximum Security Prison, and currently in the Auckland Remand Centre in Mt Eden. He is being held in custody on the basis of a Security Risk Certificate issued by the Security Intelligence Service on 20 March 2003.
In August 2003 his appeal for refugee status was heard by the Refugee Status Appeals Authority, which extensively investigated his situation and adjudged him a genuine refugee with no indication of terrorist connections. The RSAA is conservative in its judgments, rejecting 85% of the appeals it hears.
It does not lie in the bishops’ capacity to assess matters of national security, but we are deeply concerned at the extended delay in the resolution of Mr Zaoui’s situation, and also that he continues to be held in custody pending the outcome of his case.
Accordingly we respectfully urge the Government to:
Take urgent steps to achieve a fair, judicial hearing whereby the matters relating to Mr Zaoui’s status may be resolved.
Provide for Mr Zaoui, pending such hearing, to be released on bail into more humane accommodation such as has been offered by the Dominican friars in Auckland.
Cardinal Thomas Williams, Wellington
Bishop Colin Campbell, Dunedin
Bishop Denis Browne, Hamilton
Bishop Peter Cullinane, Palmerston North
Bishop John Cunneen, Christchurch
Archbishop John Dew, Wellington
Bishop Owen Dolan, Palmerston North
Bishop Patrick Dunn, Auckland
Bishop Robin Leamy, Auckland
Bishop Max Mariu, Hamilton
Archbishop Whakahuihui Vercoe
Bishop Philip Richardson, Taranaki
Bishop Derek Eaton, Nelson
Bishop Muru Walters, Te Upoko o te Ika
Bishop David Moxon, Waikato
Bishop John Bluck, Waiapu
Bishop Te Kitohi Pikaahu, Tai Tokerau
Bishop George Connor, Bay of Plenty
Bishop Brown Turei, Te Tai Rawhiti
Bishop Richard Randerson, Auckland