Sunday, November 23, 2003

Unfair process, biased judges

Just when you thought the Ahmed Zaoui travesty couldn't get any worse, we have this news from the Sunday Star-Times. The Inspector-General of Security Intelligence, the man who is supposed to be "watching the watchers", has discarded any pretence of neutrality and displayed significant bias towards both Zaoui, and asylum seekers in general.

On Asylum seekers:

We don't want lots of people coming in on false passports thrown down the loo on the plane and saying, 'I'm a refugee, keep me here.'

On Zaoui himself:

I don't bind [Dalziel] to say 'out'. Because she's got three days to decide ... If that wasn't the case, then she wouldn't have a decision. I'd be making my decision and it would be 'outski' on the next plane.

If these comments were made by a judge in a criminal case, they would result in his immediate disqualification. It is essential to our system of justice that judges be neutral, and seen to be such. The government can no longer expect us to have any faith in the process it is following - one even Greig thinks is unfair - or in the neutrality of the people making the decisions. If it wants to maintain any credability or conform in any way to standards of natural justice, it should either send the case to a credible court, or else revoke the SIS's security risk certificate and allow Zaoui to stay.