Monday, February 13, 2006

Zaoui: Not briefed

Since last year's Supreme Court ruling, the legal process which will decide the fate of Algerian refugee Ahmed Zaoui has been pretty clear. First, the Inspector-General of Security Intelligence must decide whether the Security Risk Certificate was properly issued (taking into account the higher barrier for upholding it set by the Supreme Court). If it is upheld, then the Minister of Immigration (currently David Cunliffe) will ultimately decide whether to rely on the SIS's still-classified allegations against Zaoui and deport him, or whether he will be allowed to stay. To guide their decision, the Minister is supposed to receive a classified oral briefing from the Director of the SIS, in which they lay out whatever secret evidence that is too sensitive (or simply too dubious) to be revealed to the public or (more importantly) subjected to review by an independent body.

This is the answer I got today in response to an Official Information Act request in which I asked whether the Minister had received such a briefing:

I have not yet been briefed by the Security Intelligence Service regarding Ahmed Zaoui. I will receive a briefing on this matter in the near future.

(My emphasis).

So, the person who is ultimately to decide Zaoui's fate hasn't even seen the "evidence" yet. And we're supposed to have faith in this process?


The minister will only be briefed if the Inspector-General upholds the certificate.

I can imagine that you would (and be right in doing so) complain if the Director gave his briefing to the minister before that happened.

It could be seen as the Director and Minister circumventing the process or pressuring the Inspector-General to speed up or decide a particlaur way.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 2/15/2006 11:46:00 AM

Graeme: As I understand it, the Minister is simply entitled to a briefing on the matter - not just if the SRC is upheld.

I've been informed that Paul Swain was briefed, though rather late in his tenure as Minister. I'm currently working on confirming this.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 2/15/2006 12:28:00 PM