The Green Party have produced a brochure they are distributing to the public that presents what they believe is wrong with the Search and Surveillance Bill. Details can be found on their website www.greens.org.nz/searchandsurveillance
The Greens are 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. One such prominent New Zealand pornographer has been prosecuted by the DIA for 33 offences involving the distribution of such unclassified sexually explicit material.
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, paedophiles and 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”.
Consider the following [hypothetical example] ….
Our Commissioner of Police would have to oppose one of his senior female sergeants marrying a male with known convictions for distributing paedophile material on the internet or other such objectionable material. Such an officer could realistically face split loyalties – a conflict of interests – if her husband was charged with further such offences.
She would fail in her duty as a sworn police officer if, after having had some knowledge of his serial past offending and more recent activities, she chose to use her right of silence as a spouse to protect him. The right to not provide incriminating evidence that would lead to the conviction of one’s spouse, is well established in law, but it does not apply to sworn police officers as far as the Society can tell, when they are asked to testify against their husbands.
The Search and Surveillance Bill will need to take such matters into consideration when considering a range of offences where incriminating evidence is sought from spouses.