INDEPENDENT NEWS

Zaoui victim of mental torture, says Locke

Published: Mon 6 Oct 2003 12:13 AM
Zaoui victim of mental torture, says Locke
Green MP Keith Locke is accusing the Government of being responsible for the mental torture of Algerian asylum seeker Ahmed Zaoui and is demanding that he be immediately moved out of Paremoremo Prison.
Trauma consultant and professor of psychology, Tony Taylor has conducted a three-day examination of Mr Zaoui and concludes that he has been "mentally damaged" as a result of his solitary confinement.
"Not unexpectedly, 10 months in Paremoremo's D-Block has taken a severe toll on Mr Zaoui's mental health," said Mr Locke, the Green Party's Foreign Affairs spokesperson. "It would be cruel and unconscionable to keep him in solitary confinement there for any longer."
Mr Locke has been regularly visiting Mr Zaoui in prison. He last visited him on Friday morning.
"Mr Zaoui should have been freed after being granted refugee status by the Refugee Status Appeals Authority. But if he is to be forced to endure hearings on a Security Risk Certificate then it should be in the most humane environment possible.
"There is no reason why he couldn't be transferred to the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre, where most detained asylum seekers are held.
"Since I first visited Mr Zaoui in Paremoremo last December it has been a constant battle to improve his conditions.
"I am still pressing the Corrections Minister, Paul Swain, to allow him visitors during the week. This would help to ease his mental stress. At present he is only allowed to be visited on Sunday (although as an MP I can see him on any day). By contrast, remand prisoners in Mt Eden are allowed visitors on four days of the week.
"Mr Swain classifies him as a 'remand' prisoner, but doesn't give him remand prisoner rights. At Paremoremo he has less rights than sentenced prisoners, who are at least able to mix with each other.
"Mr Swain claims Mr Zaoui is in solitary for his own protection, but surely Mr Zaoui should have some say in this. Mr Zaoui would be much happier mixing with other prisoners," said Mr Locke.

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