Articles

Secret trials by stealth

The New Zealand Law Society has pointed out that last-minute changes to the Health & Safety Reform Bill brings in secret court hearings.

People's Review of the Intelligence Service 2015

It's the final day for submissions to the Government's Intelligence Review.

To mark the day, and as a reaction to the inadequacies of the official review, the Stop the Spies coalition has released the People's Review of the Intelligence Services.

Speech: The corrosive effects of spying on New Zealand’s democracy

Edited text of speech given by Thomas Beagle to Get Smart in Wellington and Auckland.


Freedom of expression

I’m involved with the NZ Council for Civil Liberties because I’m a fan of democracy. It’s common these days to sneer at democracy, but I believe it’s still the best way we’ve found to organise ourselves on a large scale.

But democracy relies on civil liberties, and in particular, the liberty that underpins it is freedom of expression.

This is not just the right to speak, it’s also the right to listen, to find out things, to share information, to exchange views with others. It covers ideas and speech in the mainstream and it also covers radical ideas, new ideas that challenge us, ideas that are at the time obviously ridiculous.

Get Smart - the Intelligence Review

The Intelligence Review is a review of New Zealand's intelligence services being conducted by Michael Cullen (ex-politician) and Patsy Reddy (lawyer and board member). 

Our view

We have serious concerns about government spying in New Zealand. We believe that government spying has the potential to seriously undermine democracy and civil society.

The extent of New Zealand's participation in the Five Eyes global spy network has shocked us, and the carefully phrased denials about mass spying on New Zealanders are not particularly comforting.

Public meetings

To help compensate for the lack of public consultation, the NZ Council for Civil Liberties is pleased to announce that we are hosting public meetings in Wellington (6pm July 29th) and Auckland (6pm August 6th).

FYI - the Official Information Act site

Passed in 1982, the Official Information Act marked an important change in the accountability and transparency of New Zealand's government. No more would government information default to being kept secret, now the expectation was that it would be released to anyone in the country who asked for it (there are grounds for refusing - see the act for details).

Libertywatch June 2015

Criminal Justice

Police & Corrections criticised over prison death

A Coroner has criticised police and the Department of Corrections for their roles in the death of remand prisoner Jai Davis at a South Otago jail.

The 30-year-old died in a prison cell in February 2011 from a suspected drug overdose after arriving at Otago Corrections Facility near Milton with drugs concealed internally.

Govt's lack of response to the Constitutional Advisory Panel Report

In November 2013 the Constitutional Advisory Panel delivered its report to the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Māori Affairs.  The Ministers then submitted a final report to Cabinet.  The Report is therefore with the New Zealand Government and it is the practice that the Government provides a response to the report within 6 months; this ought to have occurred during 2014, even with the delay around the General Election.   

Libertywatch May 2015

Assisted dying

Terminally Ill woman acts for right to assisted dying

A woman who has terminal brain cancer has said in a statement to court that she will face a choice between taking her own life or suffering a slow and painful death, if a doctor cannot lawfully help her die.

Lecretia Seales has gone to court for clarification of whether the Crimes Act prevents a doctor from helping her to die without then being charged themselves.

A suggestion for increasing intelligence service transparency

The Director
GCSB
Wellington

Dear Una Jagose,

I have a suggestion for the GCSB that I believe could help with transparency and oversight without risking New Zealand's security.

Why spying for another country matters

This morning the New Zealand Herald in conjunction with Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and Nicky Hager have alleged that the GCSB (Government Communications and Security Bureau) has been spying on countries in the Pacific. The spying is allegedly not just for our benefit, we are spying on these countries on the behalf of the United States and other members of the Five Eyes security alliance.

Media release: Council refuses to take part in farcical submissions process for Countering Terrorist Fighters Bill

Media Release
27th November 2014

The New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties refuses to take part in the submissions process around the Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill.

Thomas Beagle, Chairperson, "Giving people just two days to make a submission is farcical. It's a parody of proper consultation and New Zealand's democratic process."

New chairperson - why civil liberties matter and what we need to do

We recently held our AGM and I'm proud to have been elected as the new Chairperson for the NZ Council for Civil Liberties.

Civil liberties matter to me. I believe that a freedom and rights-based democracy is the best way to build a society that gives everyone the chance to be the best they can be. Furthermore I believe that New Zealand can be that society.

Countering Terrorist Fighters - why the rush?

The government will be introducing the Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill into Parliament today.

NZCCL Chairpersons Report 2014

NZCCL in the 1980s

I have been involved with the Council for Civil Liberties on and off for more than thirty years.

n the 1980s the organisation was very different from that of today. We used to meet in the lounge of Hugh Price. Hugh was the Treasurer and very meticulous. He was also the expert on the SIS, and had vast numbers of files on that organisation hidden in the upper recesses of his attic. Indeed, so complete were those files that the SIS had itself once or twice consulted him to verify their own data.

Civil Rights and Liberties – What the Constitutional Advisory Panel had to say in its Report

NZ Council for Civil Liberties welcomed the opportunity presented by the Constitutional “Conversation” to consider how civil liberties might be strengthened through changes to New Zealand's constitutional arrangements.

The terms of reference for the Constitutional Advisory Panel established by the Government were to encourage people to become better informed and share their views about New Zealand's constitutional arrangements, and the Panel was asked to look for areas of broad consensus where further work could be done.

Report: NZ Bill of Rights - Continuing the conversation

This was an informative seminar hosted on the 3rd June 2014 by the Attorney-General, Hon Chris Finlayson QC; a very welcome continuation to the Conversation on New Zealand's constitutional arrangements. The three speakers had very different bill of rights experience.

 

Praise for Privacy Act revamp - but fears too

The Government has announced that it will repealing the current Privacy Act, passed in 1993, and replacing it a new one, partly based on the the Law Commission's 2011 report.

Note that this will be a repeal and re-enactment rather than merely an amendment, so we can expect the changes to be significant.

The government's press release calls out the following changes:

Claudia Geiringer Inaugural Lecture - Human Rights

This lecture was particularly informative as well as being very entertaining. The link provides an insightful look at the origins of the NZ Bill of Rights Act as well as the nuances and challenges associated with it. Importantly, it also looks towards the future and how progress may continue to be made [albeit rather slowly at times].

Video of Claudia Geiringer's inaugural lecture.

Guest article: The FATCA threat to NZers civil liberties

Buried deep within the massive omnibus tax bill now before the Select Committee in Parliament is a provision that if enacted as it is, will strip an entire class of New Zealanders defined by national origin, association or mere accident of birth, of their privacy and civil liberties under the Privacy Act and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.  Further, the Government is taking this action at the behest of the foreign state.

This guest article has been published anonymously at the request of the author.

 

Liberty Watch - February/March 2014

Employment

Lie detector tests for job applicants

Polygraph, or lie detector, tests are now being offered to New Zealand companies and recruitment agencies for use in pre-employment checks.  The test is part of a growing industry in background checking of new staff.  But critics claim the data collection is excessive and take advantage of desperate job seekers.

Liberty Watch - December 2013/January 2014

A round up of civil liberties news from December 2013 and January 2014.

Liberty Watch - October/November 2013

Civil liberties news for October/November 2013.

Liberty Watch - September 2013

Round up of civil liberty news from September 2013.

Criminal Justice

Criminals seek to overturn voting ban

Prisoner Arthur Taylor has teamed up with three other inmates to take the government to court over prisoners' rights to vote. 

Papers have been filed with the High Court in Auckland taking action against the Attorney General and Department of Corrections seeking a declaration that the blanket ban on prisoners voting contradicts basic human rights.

Immigration finally agrees to obey Public Records Act

We are pleased to report that Immigration NZ has finally agreed to honour its legal obligations under the Public Records Act, and will now be recording reasons for its decisions made under s.61 of the Immigration Act. (See our earlier articles here, here and here.)

Internal Administration Circular 13-08 (pdf) now replaces the problematic IAC 11-10. In it, para 34 says "Immigration officers considering section 61 requests should briefly record their reasons for decisions on the file."

Liberty Watch - August 2013

Civil liberties news for August 2013.

Liberty Watch - June/July 2013

Civil liberties news for June and July 2013.

 

Criminal Justice

Lundy's bid to see appeal blocked

Prominent human rights lawyer Michael Bott has complained after convicted double murderer Mark Lundy was not allowed to watch his appeal to the Privy Council as it unfolded.  Since his conviction Lundy has maintained his innocence and in June the Privy Council in London heard his appeal against his convictions.

GCSB Bill - Oral Submission

ORAL SUBMISSION TO THE INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY COMMITTEE IN RESPECT OF THE GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATIONS SECURITY BUREAU AND RELATED LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL

 

INTRODUCTION

The New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties [NZCCL] appreciates the opportunity to appear before this Committee in support of our submission.  We commend the Committee for their decision to hold the submission process in public.

Liberty Watch - May 2013

Round-up of civil liberty news from May 2013.

Criminal Justice

Government to look at law on revealing criminal backgrounds

Justice Minister Judith Collins and the Justice Ministry are considering a law change to allow police to flag criminal backgrounds to family members and others.

Ms Collins said she would like to ensure police can provide information to people who might be concerned about the behaviour of someone they're in a close relationship with.

WCJP - The Need for Rehabilitation

Part of our Alternatives to Prison series by the Wellington Community Justice Project.

A key central theme in modern story telling is the idea of good and bad. In numerous crime dramas the hero will foil a criminal’s plot, with the ‘bad guy’ going to jail as a result.

Unfortunately reality is not always quite as black-and-white as this...

WCJP - Principles of Youth Justice

Part of our Alternatives to Prison series by the Wellington Community Justice Project.

New Zealand’s innovative approach to youth offending should be incorporated into the wider criminal justice system to reduce our ever-increasing prison population. While the prison muster for adult offenders has been rapidly increasing to fiscally unsustainable levels, New Zealand imprisons far fewer youth offenders than in the past. Despite this change, the rates of youth offending have not increased.

New Zealand desperately needs to re-evaluate current sentencing practices...

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