Saturday, August 09, 2003

There are some things no government can be trusted with

Chris Trotter has an excellent article in today's Dominion-Post in which he calls the imprisonment of Ahmed Zaoui a crime against humanity. Read it if you can.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the blogosphere, NZPundit has some thoughts in reaction to Mike's post of the other night. He cuts right to the core of it, and says that it really comes down to whether we think we can trust the government on this. He thinks we can, which is interesting given the distrust he has for them on almost every other issue. I, OTOH, do not trust them. Not because I wear a tinfoil hat, but because I think that there are some things that no government can be trusted with, and the decision to imprison someone in solitary confinement for eight fucking months is one of them.

The system we have at the moment - where someone can be declared a security risk and locked up until the government decides to let them out - is essentially arbitrary imprisonment. The decision is in the hands of the SIS and the Minister, with no checks, no balances, and no independent oversight. Absolute monarchs used to operate like this, and it's one of the reasons we emasculated or overthrew them.

This is supposed to be a democracy, and in a democracy, the government is supposed to prove its case against someone before locking them up. "Trust us, we know what we're doing" is simply not good enough - people's freedom is simply too important to be taken away on faith. If the government has concerns about secrecy, then it can present the evidence against Zaoui to a court in camera. If it does anything less, then it is just as bad as the junta he is fleeing.