Monday, February 16, 2009

A victory for humanity

Iranian refugee Ali Reza Panah has been granted refugee status by the Refugee Status Appeals Authority. Panah came to New Zealand in 2002 and claimed refugee status on the basis of having converted to Christianity (which carries the death penalty in Iran). The RSAA didn't believe him. Then they changed their mind, accepted his conversion as genuine, but argued that he could simply practice his religion in secret - effectively washing their hands of the problem and their obligations under the refugee Convention. Now, they've changed their minds on that too, and decided he can stay - thanks partly to the publicity generated by their abuse of him. But it took two years detention without trial and Panah almost starving himself to death before they accepted that and made the decent, humane decision they should have made in the first place.

Meanwhile, it looks like things are going well for Bahareh Moradi as well. And I'm wondering: does this mean the ineffective system of mandatory detention is finally being abandoned?