Wednesday, March 31, 2004


The High Court has found that SIS Inspector-General Laurie Greig displayed apparent bias in the Ahmed Zaoui case and that he should stand aside:

In our judgment the Inspector-General’s interview statements about refugees and his subsequent dealings with the Director and members of the media raise, when considered together, the real possibility of apparent bias against Mr Zaoui when undertaking his review of the Director’s decision: in the first instance of undue disfavour or partiality against Mr Zaoui, and in the second of undue favour or partiality towards the Director.


We agree with Mr Harrison that this process requires adherence to the highest standards of impartiality, given Mr Zaoui’s complete reliance on the Inspector-General’s performance of his functions and the consequences for him of an adverse decision. It is also imperative that a process of this importance, both to Mr Zaoui and to our wider security interests, is not tainted by tenable, ongoing questions about the Inspector-General’s independence. These factors lead us to conclude that the Inspector-General should stand aside from the review process

(The full decision is here)

Greig has responded by submitting his resignation to the Governor-General.

While this will undoubtably delay proceedings even further while a replacement I-G is appointed, it's still a major victory for Zaoui. All along he's been fighting for a fair process; this decision makes that more likely. In the process he has also defended the right of all new Zealanders to fair, open and impartial justice, and that is something we should all be celebrating.

Update: Meanwhile, ACT is saying that the Zaoui case should never have been allowed to get in front of a court, and Winston Peters that it is "scandalous" that Zaoui has "successfully challenged the top security official in New Zealand at the taxpayers’ expense". Justice, it seems, is something only deserved by rich, white people - not by refugees.

Meanwhile, United Future's prime concern seems to be the cost to the taxpayer of keeping Zaoui in prison. To the extent that this encourages swift justice, it is good - at the same time, there's some obviously misplaced priorities there. And if the government is that concerned about the cost, they can always do what they should have done all along, and release Zaoui on bail pending the outcome of the review of his Security Risk Certificate.