Friday, November 12, 2004

Ahmed Zaoui: And now, we wait

The Supreme Court has completed its hearing into Ahmed Zaoui's appeal for Habeas Corpus, and reserved its judgement. Now there's nothing to do but wait. The court's judgement will determine whether we are a civilised country which upholds human rights, or one which endorses and uses arbitrary detention. I just hope that they make the right decision.

The government has continued to claim that "mere passage of time" does not make detention arbitrary, and continued to hide behind secrecy (prompting the Chief Justice to suggest questioning Helen Clark). I find this to be a less than compelling case. The very basis of our justice system is the idea that imprisonment must be justified, either as a punishment, or (in the case of remand) by a substantial risk to the community. Detention on the grounds of secret "evidence" flies in the face of this, and is precisely the reason we have human rights law. One only has to think of the words "star chamber" to see why we should not allow it under any circumstances.