Wednesday, December 27, 2006

They don't want to talk about it

My piece on people held in immigration detention for years without trial was the lead politics story in the Dom Post yesterday, with full acknowledgment of the sourcing. Clearly, I should be feeding journalists more often. OK, so it was Boxing Day, when people have better things to do than read the papers, but a story is still going to gain far more readers through the much-maligned "mainstream media" than it is in the blogosphere. And this is a story which deserves a lot of attention. Our government is detaining people indefinitely without charge or trial. That is something we strongly disapprove of when the Americans or third-world despots do it; we should not be doing it here.

Meanwhile, the government just doesn't want to talk about it:

The department refused to answer questions about the individual circumstances of each detainee, other than to say that all of the detainees were aged over 17.

And its easy to see why. Once these people have names, faces, histories, they can gain public sympathy, just like Ahmed Zaoui, Thomas Yadegary, or Takshila. Better then (from a bureaucratic point of view) to do everything in secret - just as the Americans tried to do at Guantanamo. Its just so much easier when you don't have the pesky public looking over your shoulder and asking awkward questions.

We need to ask those awkward questions. We need to find out who these people are and why they are facing deportation. Then we can force the government to front up and try and explain why it thinks indefinite detention is justified - and hopefully force a change in policy.


And I read this having just read in the Listener one David Cohen of the NBR blithly predicting the end of blogging in 2007. Sorry buddy, a return to the comfort isn't happening anytime soon!

Well done I/S, and a bouquet to the Dom-Post for acknowledging its source. And now a big brickbat to the collective MSM for not having the collective wit and work ethic of an amateur blogger to get off their backsides and ask the questions NRT did.

I suppose there are better sales and viewing figures in chasing Keisha Castle-Hughs than filing official information requests.

Posted by Sanctuary : 12/27/2006 12:44:00 PM

Good job! It's great to see you getting issues like this into the MSM. No matter where you stand on this, we need to have a discussion about it in the public forum.

I am also disturbed that they said "over 17" which makes me wonder if there is some 18 year old teenager in indefinite detention. That's very worrying.

Anyway, congratulations and keep up the good work.

Posted by Muerk : 12/27/2006 02:47:00 PM

I think we can all agree that indefinite detention is unacceptable but in the cases of Zaoui and Yadegary they chose detention rather than accepting that they could not stay in NZ.

The solution would be to streamline the system so as to have the deportation done as quickly as possible. But no doubt there will always be difficlut circumstances with difficult people. For people like Yadegary, who have failed to get refugee status so are not entitled to stay in NZ, perhaps there should be a UN-based progamme which would take such people.

There is an immigration and refugee process which most people adhere to - it is they who suffer because of people who choose not to do so.

Posted by Anonymous : 12/27/2006 04:18:00 PM

Neil, to be fair, Zaoui and Yadegary chose detention over being sent back to countries where they feared they'd be killed once they arrived (and with reasonable grounds for believing so).


Posted by Anonymous : 12/28/2006 08:13:00 AM

Zaoui was being sent back to Malaysia where he was perfectly safe, his family still live with no problems.

The situation with Yadegary is more difficult and i have far more sympathy for him but he has gone thru the refugee status process and that determined that he was not a refugee. One may disagree with that decision but at the same time feel uneasy that someone can choose to stay in NZ despite being not entitled to. Which is why for difficult cases such as Yadegary it may be useful to have a UN process where he leaves NZ but into the temporary care of the UN.

The problem with Yadegary staying in NZ is that he undermines the entire refugee system which, as a supporter of NZ taking refugees, I think is a very important consideration.

Posted by Anonymous : 12/28/2006 09:04:00 AM

Presumably all refugees have a well founded fear of percecution. If we wanted to save an extra Yadegary in place of Yadegary it would be as simple as having a word i nthe UNHCR's ear and adding 1 to our Quota and all of a sudden you could have a equally deserving refugee who had not just broken all sorts of laws to stay in the country at no extra cost.

Posted by Anonymous : 12/28/2006 08:10:00 PM

Neil, Zaoui has been found a refugee, in part because he presented evidence that gave reasonable grounds to believe that Malaysia was going to deport him to Algeria.

Posted by Anonymous : 12/30/2006 11:13:00 PM

I like to remind people about what the difference between myself as a legal "permanent resident" immigrant from South African and Ahmed Zaoui is.

The difference is I have a letter of recommendation from a police force that murdered thousands, and Ahmed hasn't.

Right Wingers should think harder about what they want, otherwise they may may get it.

Posted by Anonymous : 12/31/2006 08:36:00 PM

Hmm. Another thought along the same lines... As a hard working crime free taxpaying permanent resident solid citizen who has been resident here for over 5 takes them over eight months to process an NZ citizenship application.

So I guess if the refugee applications get queued behind those citizenship applications it is going to take a minimum of 9 months just to say aye or nay.

I'm always reminded of the lesson I learnt at a Lesotho border post. (Lesotho is an independent tiny very mountainous kingdom in the middle South Africa)

Border formalities were a matter of chatting in a friendly fashion with the guy at the desk about the weather and the state of the road, he writing our passport number in a ledger, and rubber stamping our passports. And saying a cheery Goodbye!

Border formalities at Miami airport involved the very latest and greatest computers and queues over a thousand times longer.

Moral of the story.

Computers make bureaucracies worse and slower.

Posted by Anonymous : 12/31/2006 09:14:00 PM