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?
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 : ”
Other information you may find interesting:
Why did Customs copy the address book from a mobile phone owned by the wife of Michael Quinlan, owner of the Switched on Gardener chain? (Tony Wall – Sunday Star Times).
The incident has sparked concerns police are circumventing warrants by using Customs’ sweeping powers to detain, search and take information from international travellers.
The Customs Act makes it clear that Customs can only use their powers to investigate offences under the Customs Act. While they’re allowed to pass on information about other serious crimes to the Police, there’s definitely no provision for deliberately collecting data on behalf of the Police...
Animal rights campaigners tracked – 1 August 2010
An animals rights campaigner is pictured in a newspaper with a tracking device she found attached to her car. The Sunday Star Times alleges that this is the third time in three years that they have “caught Thompson & Clark Investigations doing covert surveillance on political groups for corporate clients.” The political campaigner told the paper she believed the company had been engaged by the Pork Industry Board. Read the full report here
An article on Stuff detailing the types of protest groups that are under surveillance in New Zealand.
No Crime in Gisborne, it’s Official – 25 July 2010
“Police in Gisborne want to restrict the information released to the media and give the people in the town the warm and fuzzies.
The question is Is ignorance bliss, or are there other motives for clamming-up about the true extent and nature of crime in Gisborne? It smacks of censorship to us and history has proved that has never been a good thing. Surely it is preferable to create a safer, low crime community rather than mislead people into thinking that it is?” read more in the Gisborne Herald
Police Minister infuriated at newspaper’s test of security at Super 14s match – reporters testing security at a rugby match weren’t pretending to be terrorists.
“MPs may make fools of themselves from time to time but they want to ban others from doing it. Satire, ridicule and denigration of MPs using any television footage shot from parliamentary galleries is to be banned under rules proposed by the standing orders committee. The move on freedom of expression is not the only controversy the rules have caused. They also create anomalies between what television cameras can show and what newspapers photographers are allowed to show, giving television the advantage…” read more in the Herald
Read also our “Armed Offender Squad and Armed Police Incidents” page.