Thursday, February 03, 2005

On this question, we should all be on Zaoui's side

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Crown's appeal on whether the Inspector-General of Security and Intelligence must take Ahmed Zaoui's human rights into account in his decision. As I've previously said, this is the big decision - if the Court of Appeal judgement is allowed to stand, then the Inspector-General will effectively be forced to revoke the security risk certificate. Clarifying the "very high" threshold set for the Inspector-General was a central factor in the government's decision to appeal; but it seems that the Crown has already lost that aspect of the case. According to Scoop,

the court will not hear argument on whether the "high threshold" of security risk is the test to considered by Justice Neazor

Instead the appeal will focus on the subsidiary issue of judicial review - whether the decisions of the Inspector-General are reviewable by the courts. And on this question, we should all be on Zaoui's side, because any precedent will not just apply to the Inspector-General, but to judicial reviews in general. What is at stake - and what the government is arguing so hard against - is the very principle that government decisions are reviewable unless they are explicitly said not to be. If you believe in accountable government and the rule of law, then you should be hoping that Zaoui wins.