Four and a half years after he arrived in New Zealand, two and a half years after he was released on bail, and almost a year after it was originally scheduled to begin, Algerian refugee Ahmed Zaoui is finally going to get a hearing on the Security Risk Certificate which resulted in his imprisonment. Unfortunately, despite not dealing with classified information (that will be dealt with under a kafkaesque set of procedures which will see Zaoui forbidden to know the evidence or even the allegations against him), that hearing will be held in secret, and the media barred.
This is simply unacceptable. We all know the saying: "justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done". Public hearings are vital to maintaining public confidence in the integrity of the justice system. They allow both expert observers and the wider public to assess whether the presiding officer is giving the accused a fair hearing, and whether the "evidence" presented passes the laugh test. In other words, they're a way of keeping the system honest, and letting us see that the process is not a stich-up. The Inspector-General's hearings are not a criminal trial, but the same principles apply. If they are held in secret, we will have no reason to have confidence in the outcome, and every reason to view them as a modern day Star Chamber.