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!