New Zealand Erodes Right To Silence, Broadens Search & Surveillance Powers

The Search and Surveillance bill, recently sent back for re-drafting following a great deal of confusion and concern over the powers that it will extend, has just made another appearance.

Only those who commented on the original draft were permitted to make submissions on the new version, so what has happened to the Democratic Process?

Tech Liberty NZ and the NZ Council for Civil Liberties made submissions on the revised bill, click on the links for details.

The Campaign to Stop the Search and Surveillance Bill strongly objects to the New Zealand public being locked out of the bill and in a release on the Aotearoa Independent Media Centre website in July their spokesman said (emphasis ours):

“We wish to be given assurances that new voices will be able to be heard through the submission process and that there will be plenty of time for the people to be heard before the bill returns for its second reading,” Mr Hales said.

The past several years in New Zealand have seen our basic freedoms in this country drastically eroded by new legislation, with the Search and  Surveillance bill being the latest in a series of draconian legislation that all New Zealanders should be concerned about. The Campaign to Stop the Search and Surveillance Bill believes that security does not come from surveillance and unchecked power but from a free and tolerant society. We do not want new powers of search or surveillance extended to the police or other agencies.

We put all the parliamentarians on notice that we are watching you and watching this bill.” read the full press release on the AIMC here

The Green Party has made some scathing criticism on the latest version, this is their press release

Search and Surveillance Bill still threatens civil liberties

“Despite improvements, the Search and Surveillance Bill reported back to Parliament today is still a serious threat to our civil liberties, Green Party human rights spokesperson Keith Locke said today.

The Justice and Electoral Committee’s commentary on the Bill, which was tabled in Parliament today, contains a critical minority report from the Green Party.

The Bill removes a person’s traditional right to silence when questioned by the Police,” said Mr Locke.

Previously, the Serious Fraud Office could require people to answer questions on serious business fraud. Now, through a system of Examination Orders, the Bill extends this power to the Police for all serious crime.

The Examination Orders apply not only to a suspect. The suspect’s spouse, friends, and colleagues will also be required to answer questions or face a year in jail,” said Mr Locke.

“To make matters worse, the Bill provides for Production Orders, whereby a range of government departments, not just the Police, can require people to produce documents, again under threat of a year in jail.

The Bill allows search and surveillance warrants to be granted to dozens of state agencies from the Food Safety Authority to the Reserve Bank, none of whom have complaints bodies with anything like the rigour and accountability of the Independent Police Conduct Authority.”

The Green Party is also worried about the extent of state surveillance authorised by the Bill. The most alarming provision is one which allows Police to be granted warrants to install a covert camera in people’s houses.

“This is an unacceptable intrusion into people’s personal space,” said Mr Locke.

Privacy in one’s own home should be sacrosanct.”

Mr Locke also considers media organisations should be worried by the Search and Surveillance Bill. While they have the right to claim privilege, such claims will often be heard after the Police have raided media offices and taken material identifying confidential sources.

Read the full Green Party Minority report on the Bill : ”


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