Tuesday, September 07, 2004


The crown apparantly thinks that it would be acceptable to keep Ahmed Zaoui in jail without trial for five years.

I am simply staggered by this. Imprisonment without trial is about as fundamental a violation of human rights as you can get. Our earliest constitutional document - the Magna Carta - explicitly bans it:

No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.

This is considered so important that it is the only section of the Magna Carta which has been retained in New Zealand law (through its confirmations in 1351, 1354, and 1368). For the crown to suggest that it is acceptable to keep someone in jail without trial for five years is pissing on our most fundamental laws and values. That's the sort of thing that goes on in shitty despotic regimes like Burma, China, North Korea, and Algeria - it should not be happening in New Zealand.

If the government cannot guarantee Zaoui a fair and speedy trial, then it should release him while the lawyers do their work. We grant that much to suspected murderers; surely we can grant it to a refugee who has not been charged with any crime.