Saturday, December 04, 2004

Two years is too long

Today marks the second anniversary of Ahmed Zaoui's imprisonment. He has been held for two years without charge or trial, on secret evidence known only to the SIS and (possibly) the Minister of Immigration. Ten months of that time was spent in solitary confinement, the impact of which Zaoui described in an affidavit to the High Court:

the days were dead, full of darkness and silence. I could not see the sun, nor the stars and I almost forgot about the moon. I tasted different types of suffering which I did not know before. It was days and nights of empty everything. Nothing was with me except my belief in our God. I felt as if this ten and a half months was a page ripped from the book of my life.

Two years is too long. Two days is too long. For a man to be held without charge or trial is an assault on human rights, on fundamental standards of justice, on everything New Zealand is supposed to stand for. We are a better country than this, and it is time to start acting like it. On Thursday, the Supreme Court will decide on whether Zaoui gets bail. I can only hope that they will make the right decision, and by doing so stand up for the values which our government has so clearly abandoned.