Monday, June 11, 2012

S & S is Law

The Search and Surveillance Bill received royal assent (was rubber-stamped) on 5th April 2012 and significant parts of it came into force on 18th April; in particular the parts associated with surveillance device warrants, declaratory orders and privilege.

The new search and surveillance practises had to become law as the temporary Video Surveillance law expired in April.

In August 2011 the Supreme Court had ruled that during Operation 8 (the operation that resulted in the October 15th 2007 police raids up and down the country and the jailing of Tame Iti and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara for two and a half years) police had illegally used hidden cameras to gather evidence. Rather than look further into the illegal actions of the police, the National government believed the Supreme Court ruling called for urgent measures and the Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Act 2011 was passed in September 2011 to retrospectively legalise illegal police action.

Other parts of the Act, such as the new laws on search warrants and production orders, will come into force on or before 1st April 2014.

Friday, March 23, 2012

It's Law

The Bill passed its third and final reading on Thursday 22nd March.

Judith Collins, Minister of Justice, says that it achieves the right balance between protecting the rights of citizens and the needs for modern search and surveillance. She is totally wrong.

The Search and Surveillance Bill is a fundamental shift in state powers.

This act radically alters not only key concepts of justice, but also the boundaries of search and surveillance. Under this Act police and State surveillance becomes even more entrenched in society. It legalises current surveillance and pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable even further into the realm of State control. It drastically extends powers of police and numerous other State agencies.

Police and State agencies will have even more powers to spy and surveil people. The police and others have more power to do unwarranted searches and surveillances. Human intervention devices (spies) need no warrant and have no time-limit on how long they can operate. The road-blocks seen in Ruatoki on 15th October 2007 can become the norm. The list of powers given to the police and other agencies is atrocious.

The Bill also attacks core concepts of 'justice', including the loss of right to silence and the right not to self-incriminate. The old adage of innocent until proven guilty becomes guilty until you can prove your innocence.

This Bill sees a fundamental shift in the balance of powers - we must continue to battle it.

The Act must be trashed.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

S&S Bill May Be Decided Tuesday 20th March

Judith Collins announced last week that the Bill will come out of Committee on Tuesday 20th March. That means this Bill may be passed today. It could be law by 18th April. But even if it passes through - the fight will go on. This Bill will not be tolerated.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

It's Not too Late!

The Search and Surveillance Bill may have passed its second reading, but some of us believe that there is still a fighting chance. It only passed by two votes, there could be a chance some people could be swayed and change their minds.

Last year ACT opposed the Criminal Procedures Bill (part 3) on the basis that it removed the Right to Silence. National had to remove that clause to get that Bill through. Maybe if John Banks could recognise that that Right to Silence is effectively removed in the Search and Surveillance Bill, that will be one vote gone.

United Future could also be worked on.

There may be the odd National Party MP who could do a conscious vote.

And we need to ensure Labour continues to oppose the Bill.

We need to generate enough publicity to weaken the MPs and get the majority to vote against this Bill.

Recent articles about the Bill can be read here.

Do something now to stop the Bill.

Friday, March 2, 2012

It's Back!

It's back with a vengence - the debate over the Search and Surveillance Bill is definitely on the books again.

The legislation passed its second reading on Thursday night by 61 votes to 59, with National, ACT and United Future voting in support. Next week the Bill will probably move to its committee stage.

National say they have changed the Bill, but there isn't much difference. This Bill still dramatically increases state power. It still removes the so-called right to silence. It still allows a dramatic 'legal' increase in powers of state search and surveillance.

Some of the most disturbing provisions still include:
  • Warrantless Searches - Circumstances in which ‘enforcement officers’ can search with no warrant are being expanded, now only ‘suspicion’ will be required to conduct a warrantless search.
  • Plain view searches – Grants ‘enforcement officers’ the right to seize items in plain view. We believe that this will apply to computers and other data storage devices. Once seized these items can be copied in their entirety.
  • Remote access searches of computers: agencies will be empowered to search computers (including for things like web-based email)
  • Examination orders: These orders require someone to report to the police for questioning. The right against self-incrimination is totally compromised by this law. You may have to go before a judge to have them determine if you are incriminating yourself, thereby incriminating yourself...a catch-22.
  • Production orders – allow ‘enforcement officers’ to sit back and order you to produce documents on an on-going basis that you have or will have in future if they suspect that an offence has been committed
This Bill must be stopped.

Judith Collins says they have adequate safeguards to protect us against unresaonable surveillance. These include prior approval from judiciary before warrants are granted. She also says that anyone feeling their rights are infringed after this Bill becomes law, she says that we have the 'ability to seek redress through the courts when the search or surveillance is unreasonable'. She makes a few basic misassumptions there, including the fact that she thinks 'justice' is accessible and affordable for all.

Meaningless words from her. Anyone following the trial of the 'Urewera 4', arrested as a result of police Operation 8, will know that 'prior approval from judiciary' for the issuing of warrants is worthless.

The state already has unreasonable powers of search and surveillance in this country. We all need to be doing as much as possible to stop this Bill now.

We managed to get it put off in 2009, we can't let them sneak it into law now. We must fight back.

Organse demonstrations, harass members of Parliament - do whatever you can do.

Stop the Bill Now!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Bill Law by April?

Judith Collins, Minister of Justice, has announced that she intends that the Search and Surveillance Bill is law by mid-April this year.

Mid-April is when the 'temporary Video Surveillance law' expires. That is the law rushed through parliament to retrospectively legalise illegal police action. An action described by many lawyers as 'abhorrent' and even 'repulsive' and not needed. It is (or was) already law then, that any evidence gathered (whether legally or illegally) can be presented in court under the Evidence Act, at the discretion of the court, depending on the seriousness of the evidence.

New Zealand is one of the only lands where law can be changed retrospectively on the whims of government.

Once the Search and Surveillance Bill becomes law, we will be even more on the road to becoming one of the most heavily surveilled countries in the world.

There will also be fundamental changes to 'law and order' - the right to silence will be gone, as will the right to not incriminate oneself. And the law has a catch-22 phrase to legalise all future surveillance developments before they have developed.

This Act, hand-in-hand with other law changes going on, mean so-called 'rights' such as the right to a jury trial, the right to be present for your own court case, are being written out of law.

The Search and Surveillance Bill needs to be stopped now.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Video Bill is now law

The Video Surveillance Bill is law. It was passed on October 6th, 2011.

The Bill makes it explicitly lawful for government agencies to use covert video surveillance under a warrant for private property. In plain language, it legalises police breaking the law and planting secret surveillance cameras inside peoples' homes.

The bill has retrospective effect, ensuring that all video footage can be used as evidence and that previous convictions that relied on video evidence are not open to appeal.