Changes to Search and Surveillance Bill sought by Parker

The Dominion Post reports today that Labour shadow attorney-general, David Parker wants National to “curb” Serious Fraud Office powers relating to production and examination orders laid down in the Search and Surveillance Bill. He has written to retiring justice minister Simon Power arguing that the media should be exempted to protect sources and the orders should come from judges rather than by SFO notice. Mr Power responded that exempting the media would give it greater protection than other sectors of society, which was difficult to justify.

SPCS notes that the Green Party produced a brochure last year that they distributed to the public that presents what they believe is wrong with the Search and Surveillance Bill. Details were published on their website at the time –  www.greens.org.nz/searchandsurveillance

The Greens are rightly concerned that the bill gives, for the first time so they claim, the power to use force, including the power to detain people, to a number of enforcement agencies that have never had such power(s) in the past.  Such agencies they claim, include the Department of Internal Affairs – whose Censorship Compliance Unit is responsible for tracking down, gathering evidence, and assisting in the prosecution of paedophiles who trade objectionable publications over the internet.

In addition the Unit carries out the same functions with respect to hardcore pornographers, who hoard and distribute unclassified imported DVDs filled with objectionable content that degrades, demeans and dehumanises women.

It should be obvious that DIA enforcement agents must be granted the increased powers contained in this bill to be able to inspect, carry out surveillance on, apprehend and bring to justice, offenders auch as paedophiles and distributors of hardcore pornographers who break the law and do untold injury to the public good. 

Of course search warrants would need to be obtained prior to raids on the premises of such offenders and appropriate authorisation obtained for carrying out surveillance on such persons. Section 198 of the Summary Proceedings Act 1957, sets outs the statement that must be signed by a District Court Judge, or Justice of the Peace, or Community Magistrate or Registrar, authorising a constable to carry out a search.

The Greens raise a number of other concerns about the use of  ’examination orders’ whereby authorities under the bill are authorised to ‘force’ suspected parties to the offence(s) to provide incriminating information about their friend(s), or else they face a year in prison.

One wonders whether the ‘wall of silence’ maintained steadfastly for years by the Kahui twins’ whanau to protect the perpetrator of their alleged murders, is a “right” that the Greens want to defend too!

Do the friends of paedophiles and pornographers who are party to the alleged crimes they commit and/or have knowledge about them that could assist authorities, have a “right” to remain slient? The Society contends that they should not, while the Greens probably, to be consistent, probably say “yes”.

For more see:

SPCS opinion piece published 21 November 2010

http://www.spcs.org.nz/2010/search-and-surveillance-bill-is-our-privacy-under-threat/

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