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


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




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...

WCJP - Management Courts

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

Management courts are a special type of court which emphasise the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders. The late prominent defence lawyer Greg King has advocated for the adoption of such courts in New Zealand, after seeing their operation in the United States. They are similar in principle to the drug courts recently established on a five-year pilot in New Zealand, in which offenders will be offered extensive rehabilitation and support alongside ongoing alcohol and drug testing....

Report: Alternatives to Prison by the Community Justice Project

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of imprisonment in the Western world, while people are increasingly becoming aware that prison is often ineffective at limiting crime and rehabilitating offenders.

This report considers alternatives to imprisonment and makes a number of recommendations about how New Zealand can improve its justice and corrections systems in order to reduce crime, help offenders and save money.

The full report is attached to this post (PDF format).

Liberty Watch - April 2013

Round-up of civil liberty news from April 2013.



Amnesty International criticises New Zealand Government’s over refugees

Amnesty International has expressed its disappointment with the New Zealand Government’s decision to push forward with a Bill to introduce detention under a mass warrant for asylum seekers.

IPCA again decline to investigate badge-hiding police

The IPCA have responded to our letter asking them to investigate the officers who deliberately hid their badge numbers while evicting the Occupy Auckland protesters in 2012.

They have refused our request, claiming that "the Authority has limited resources and can only direct its attention towards the most serious cases." 

Record-keeping and human Rights - an on-going saga

(This is an update to our earlier articles about this issue. One and two.)

Government says the right to freedom of expression doesn't matter at sea

By now you've probably heard of the National Government's plans to make protest at sea illegal through an amendment to the Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Bill. From NZ Stuff:

An amendment to the Crown Minerals Bill which will allow the Defence Force to arrest and detain anti-mining protesters outside of New Zealand's 12-mile territorial limit, was introduced by Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges.

Letter sent to IPCA re police officers hiding their identities

We have written to the Independent Police Complaints Authority to ask them to investigate the police officers who deliberately hid their identities by sharing badge numbers while evicting protesters in Auckland in January 2012 (see One News report).

We will report back any response we get from the IPCA.

Dear Independent Police Complaints Authority,

I am writing to you on behalf of the NZ Council for Civil Liberties.

Liberty Watch - March 2013

Round-up of civil liberty news for March 2013.

Criminal Justice

Breath testing amendment bill breaches Bill of Rights

The Law society has spoken against that the Land Transport (Admissibility of Evidential Breath Tests) Amendment Bill which proposes to amend section 77 of the Land Transport Act so that when a person fails an evidential breath test, but elects to take a blood test, the result of the breath test will be admissible against them in a prosecution if a blood specimen cannot be taken “for any reason”.

Liberty Watch - February 2013

Round-up of civil liberty news for February 2013.


Help for wrongly convicted

A leading forensic scientist is launching a charity for people who have been wrongly convicted.  Dr Anna Sandiford, an expert defence adviser at the 2009 acquittal of David Bain, has held initial talks with supporters from backgrounds such as lawyers, legal academics and professional investigators.  She plans to launch the organisation this year fearing outdated legal processes and cuts in legal aid funding are leading to a rising number of wrongful imprisonments.

NZCCL monthly meetings now open to public

The Committee of the NZ Council for Civil Liberties has decided to make its monthly meetings open to anyone who wishes to attend.

A typical meeting includes:

  • Discussion of the various projects that members are engaged in
  • Chat about the civil liberties issues of the day
  • Responding to correspondence 

If you wish to bring up a particular issue, we ask that you communicate this by email to the beforehand.


Liberty Watch - January 2013

Round up of civil liberty news for January 2013.


Criminal Justice

Inmates awarded $453,875 compensation

New Zealand prisoners have been awarded more than $450,000 in compensation since 2005, of which about $47,000 has been paid to their victims and $27,000 in other payments, including fines.

To date, just $133,070 has been paid to prisoners, following a claims process for compensation awarded for any act or omission by or on behalf of the Crown.

Liberty Watch - December 2012



Prison smoking ban ruled unlawful

A judge has ruled a prison smoking ban is unlawful.  Justice Gilbert said a blanket smoking ban did not serve the purpose of ensuring custodial sentences were safe, secure, humane and effective, and was not ''reasonably necessary'' to maintain the safety of prison staff and inmates.  ''In my view, the ban falls outside the scope of the rule making power under section 33 of the Corrections Act,'' he said

The role of the GCSB

GCSB in the spotlight

In an article in the Herald on Tuesday December 18, Keith Locke raises some awkward questions about the Government Communications Security Bureau and its association with the Five Eyes electronic spying network.

He discusses some of the dangers of our involvement with the Five Eyes network, the cost of the service, the lack of accountability of the GCSB, and thepotential threat it poses to our international relations.

Family Court Reform Bill

Family Court Proceeding Reform Bill

The relevance of the Leveson media inquiry to New Zealand

The report of the Leveson inquiry into the ethics, culture and practice of the UK press has now been released. With our own Law Commission also looking further at media regulation, a number of local commentators have asked what relevancy the Leveson findings can hold for New Zealand.

Alan Ringwood, legal adviser to the NZ Herald, handily summarises the findings:

How the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement would undermine New Zealand’s sovereignty


Auckland will play host to the 15th round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) between 3 and 12 December when hundreds of negotiators from 11 countries will attend.