Saturday, June 10, 2006

Deportation and "national security"

The government has deported a man, Rayed Mohammed Abdullah Ali, on national security grounds. He was a previous associate of one of the 9/11 hijackers who had been a flight student in both the US and New Zealand. But despite FBI suspicions, he was never charged with any offence, and was allowed to return to Qatar after 9/11.

While the mouth-breathers down in the sewer are crowing, this does raise concerns. There are two clauses in the Immigration Act 1987 which allow deportation in these sorts of cases. The first, s73, allows the deportation of suspected terrorists. It requires that the Minister has "reason to believe" that the person is a member of a terrorist organisation, or (more relevantly in this case)

That the person will, if permitted to remain in New Zealand, engage in, or facilitate the commission of, any act of terrorism.

(Emphasis added).

The "problem" with this is that it requires some evidence, however minimal, and that the order can be challenged in court. So instead, the government chose to rely on s72, which requires no reasons and allows no right of appeal. If the Minister of Immigration thinks you are a Bad Person, you are out. This is an autocratic provision and a prima facie violation of the Bill of Rights Act's affirmation of the right to justice. While the mouth-breathers will no doubt talk about how such a draconian law is "neccessary" to protect New Zealand from terrorism, I think it is also necessary to ensure that government decisions are reviewable and that attention is paid to justice. And for those who disagree, I can only point out that it is rather rich to complain about "Helengrad" while explicitly supporting autocratic and dictatorial behaviour (with thanks to Bernard Darnton for that little line).

Interestingly, the government's review of the Immigration Act proposes bringing national security provisions together with those covering ordinary deportations and removals to create one list of criteria and one streamlined process. While having concerns about where and how decisions would be made (a key theme of the review seems to be to devolve important decisions to unaccountable, faceless officials who would make them in secret), a consequence of this would be that national security decisions would be subject to appeal and independent humanitarian review. That's certainly an improvement on the current process, and its something which should be incorporated into legislation even if the review concludes that a single expulsion provision is undesirable.


If one applies for a Visa, hides (lies about) information that is asked for (other aliases or names known by might be pertinent) then this temporary visitor was admitted under false pretences. His "right" to be here ended when he violated the terms of the application.

He can re-apply for a Visa from Saudi Arabia.

Posted by ZenTiger : 6/10/2006 06:59:00 PM

Lying about ones visa info also requires proof, and has a right of appeal. It's not about his right or otherwise, it's about openness of justice.

Posted by James : 6/10/2006 09:57:00 PM

AFter the Zaoui case I expect that the government just wants this guy to disappear and the Saudis are pretty good at that sort of thing.
One hopes that this has all been done in accordance with the law, but we just don't know do we?

Posted by Anonymous : 6/10/2006 10:37:00 PM

Zen: Quite apart from the fact that there doesn't seem to have been deceit at all (his name was clearly in his passport; the problem seems to be that Immigration didn't check it), deceit doesn't end the right to natural justice. That's universal under New Zealand law, and applies to everyone in any dealing with any government body - and a damn good thing too!

Current law recognises this. s33 of the Immigration Act 1987 lays out the procedure for deporting people on temporary permits (whether because theyhave given false information or otherwise). it requires that the Minister gives reasons for their decision, and those reasons can be challenged before the Removal Review Authority. Which is precisely why the government didn't use them...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/10/2006 11:11:00 PM

Riddley: it's been done perfectly according to law. The law requires that the Governor-General signs a bit of paper saying that the Minister doesn't like someone, and such a bit of paper was signed. That law is a crock, but there's no question of legality.

He had apparantly been living in Saudi Arabia for a few years, so you'd hope he wouldn't be in too much danger. OTOH, given the way they treat suspected terrorists over there, we may just have deported a man to torture. We'll have to wait and see, but again it points out another flaw in the law: deportation to torture is forbidden under the CAT (and probably under the BORA), but enforcing that right requires access to the courts. The lack of an appeal process for national security deportations allows the government to violate human rights and our international obligations 9as well as common human decency) at will.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/10/2006 11:18:00 PM

Saudi, a "friendly" regime with dictatorial fundamentalist government, full of terrorists (aka anyone who disagrees with the local dictator, or funds the local charities).

Wrong place, wrong time, wrong ideas:
Was once in the vicinity of a genuine terrorist. Rumoured to have said something bad at the time.

Wants to be a pilot.

Arbitrary arrest, deportation, and likely torture and death at the hands of said "friendly" regime.

Great stuff. I would say something about the law, the minister, and the gg at this point, but it would probably be considered seditious.

Posted by tussock : 6/11/2006 02:45:00 AM

Well sure it's not great stuff, but it's not anything to get all irate about either. Anyone from the Middle East wanting flying lessons in a Western country can expect to be an object of suspicion these days, and the blame for that can be sheeted home to people from the Middle East, not the West.

It's a straightforward matter of risk management. Personally, I'd prefer the govt to err on the side of caution in managing the risk, and when you consider the likely consequences if they decided to accept the risk and the rest of us ended up paying for it with human sacrifice, it's no surprise they also prefer to err on the side of caution.

Posted by Psycho Milt : 6/11/2006 09:15:00 AM

First they came for the Arabs, in the name of his security, and Psycho Milt, being not an arab, did not object.

Let it be said that some of us did, even if just a little. Security is not found under an abusive government.

Posted by tussock : 6/12/2006 12:04:00 AM