Sanctuary and Politics
In 1849 a philosopher was expelled from Belgium and France because of subversive views and political activities and came to Great Britain. Despite pressure from Prussia and other european nations the British government refused to expel him because they believed in freedom of expression. The British government was no more enamoured of these philosophies than their european neighbours nor were under any covenant or obligation to accept this refugee. They simply stuck to their liberal principles and did "the right thing". Today Karl Marx's grave is a tourist attraction in Highgate Cemetry.
In 2002 an Islamic politician and scholar, expelled from Belgium, France and Switzerland for alleged political activities came to New Zealand. The NZ Refugee Status Appeals Authority examined the previous allegations against him and rejected them. The SIS (under pressure from undisclosed other countries)issued a security risk certificate allowing him to be deported in spite of the RSAA ruling. Ahmed Zaoui has remained in prison since that time amidst repeated litgation over that certificate and its review. During this litigation it has become increasingly apparent that alleged secret evidence held by the SIS contains nothing of substance beyond the allegations that have already been discredited by the RSAA.
The Sock Thief and The Whig have pointed to a Herald article on Zaoui's party (the FIS) and suggest that he should be deported because his politics are objectionable. Lord Russell (an altogether nobler Whig) would have found Karl Marx's politics no less objectionable and a far more credible threat but put human decency, freedom of expression and a conviction that dangerous ideas should be confronted by counter arguments rather than suppression first. I do not believe that this (or any recent) NZ government is any less committed to human rights or freedom of expression and we have the additional argument of international obligations under the Refugee Convention. What is on trial is whether they have the moral courage of their earlier British counterpart.