Thursday, October 14, 2004

Enemy of the State

I watched this documentary tonight, in which a TVNZ reporter travelled to Algeria, France, Belgium and Switzerland in an effort to find out whether Ahmed Zaoui is a terrorist. He seems to have decided "no", but it would have been nice if he'd done it a year ago (or maybe even almost two?), rather than waiting until this late in the piece.

And at the same time, the whole question is also fairly irrelevant. People are not objecting to Zaoui's treatment because they think he is innocent (though that fact makes it worse); they are objecting because not even a terrorist should be treated like that. No-one should be imprisoned without trial. No-one should be denied access to the evidence against them. And no-one should be subjected to a process which so grossly violates the principles of natural justice. The banner at the top of the page says "free Ahmed Zaoui, or give him a fair trial", and that is what people have demanded since the beginning: that Zaoui either be charged and the evidence against him tested in a court of law before an impartial judge, or that he be set free - just like any other criminal suspect. But the current process - arbitrary imprisonment based on laughably thin secret "evidence" - is simply an affront to our fundamental values. As Tom Scott said, we are a better country than this. It's long past time we started acting like it.