Last week, we learned that the government had deported Rayed Mohammed Abdullah Ali, an associate of the September 11th hijackers, on national security grounds. Now, we learn that he has disappeared. The government will not say who they handed Ali to in Saudi Arabia, and his family have not heard from him.
Saudi Arabia is a torture state, where according to Human Rights Watch,
Arbitrary detention, mistreatment and torture of detainees... remain serious concerns.
The US State Departmnet's 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for Saudi Arabia notes that prisoners are subjected to
beatings, whippings, and sleep deprivation. In addition, there were allegations of beatings with sticks and suspension from bars by handcuffs.
and that people are often arbitrarily detained, in violation of both international and Saudi domestic law.
And we deported a man to this place - a man who, given his association with terrorists, would be likely to be treated in exactly this manner.
New Zealand is a party to the UN Convention Against Torture. Article 3 of the Convention states
1. No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
2. For the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights.
In addition, s9 of the BORA affirms the right of everyone not to be subjected to torture or cruel, degrading, or disproportionately severe treatment or punishment. And the Minister has to consider that right. In their landmark decision on Ahmed Zaoui, the Supreme Court ruled that
the Minister, in deciding whether to certify under s 72 of the Immigration Act 1987 that the continued presence of a person constitutes a threat to national security, and members of the Executive Council, in deciding whether to advise the Governor-General to order deportation under s 72, are not to so decide or advise if they are satisfied that there are substantial grounds for believing that, as a result of the deportation, the person would be in danger of being arbitrarily deprived of life or of being subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Section 72 is exactly the same clause Rayed Ali was deported under.
So, the question is whether the Minister considered the possibility that Ali would be tortured or disappeared if deported, and if he did, how the hell he concluded that that there were not "substantial grounds for believing" that it would happen, given Saudi Arabia's appalling human rights record. Perhaps a question someone should raise in Parliament?