Celebrating 20 years of the Bill of Rights Act

The 20th anniversary of New Zealand’s Bill of Rights is being celebrated at Victoria University’s Centre for Public Law on August 26.

Sir Geoffrey Palmer, former Prime Minister and architect of the Bill of Rights, is giving a public lecture about his aspirations for the legislation at its inception.

It's back - the Search & Surveillance Bill returns

Guest editorial by Val Morse

An interim report on the Search and Surveillance Bill was issued by the Justice and Electoral Select Committee last week. The report is an admission that the bill will confer enormous new powers onto 70+ government agencies. 

The report confirms that police will get a load of new powers: video surveillance where police trespass on private property will be legal; the circumstances in which audio bugging will be legal will dramatically increased from what it is at present. The threshold for warrantless searches is being lowered, as are the circumstances for setting up roadblocks.

Making a submission to a Select Committee

What's involved with making a submission to a Select Committee?

Thomas Beagle accompanied Kevin McCormack to support him in making the Council's submission about the Electoral (Disqualification of Convicted Prisoners) Amendment Bill.

Read about it.

Is the Internet a human right?

A report on a talk from Jonathan Penney, Cyberlaw Fellow at Victoria University, about the connection between internet access and s14 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights.

DomPost misinterprets school search guidelines

The article from the DomPost (also in Stuff) starts with:

Schools have been told they can now search pupils for weapons and drugs without fearing legal action.

New edition of classic NZ Civil Rights Handbook released

The latest edition of Tim McBride's classic New Zealand Civil Rights Handbook has just been released.

WCC backs down on city-wide liquor ban

The Wellington City Council has dropped plans to impose a city-wide liquor ban after strong public opposition. The current ban on consuming or carrying liquor has been extended from the inner city to Newtown and Mt Cook.

The NZCCL made a submission on the issue as did 603 others, with 76% of submissions opposing the ban.

Tech Liberty on Copyright/Filesharing

Tech Liberty has made a submission on the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill.

This is the replacement for the earlier s92A of the Copyright Bill. The original version was flawed on a number of grounds and highly offensive to civil liberties with its lack of due process ("guilt upon accusation") and intrusions into privacy.

The new bill is significantly better but Tech Liberty remains concerned that internet disconnection continues as a possible punishment.

How technology changes privacy online

How much do you publish about yourself online?  What can people find out about you by looking at your photos?

Tech Liberty writes an article about how improving technology can mean that data that was safe to share in the past can now reveal more than you expect.

ACTA: Bad for Civil Liberties

Tech Liberty has written an article about the ACTA treaty's implications for civil liberties in New Zealand.

It lists five areas for concern:

Free Speech for Corporations in US

The US Supreme Court declared on 21 January 2010 in a landmark decision that corporations have all the rights of free speech that citizens have enjoyed since 1791.

Search & Surveillance Bill to be Redrafted

The Government has announced that the over-reaching Search and Surveillance Bill is being redrafted.

This is at least a partial victory for the large number of people and groups who opposed the original bill as being an unwarranted expansion of government power.

The new version should be available in July/August.

Sunday TV program article about the Search & Surveillance Bill

The Sunday program does a Big Brother episode about government spying and the Search and Surveillance Bill.

Is it protection or prying? SUNDAY investigates legislation which will dramatically increase the state's authority to peep into your private lives. Just who is reading your emails, listening to your phone conversations and where does it stop? Should we be afraid? One legal heavyweight says it's "creepy" and warns it is open to abuse.

Surveillance: current law

Tech Liberty surveys the ways that the government can eavesdrop on people.

A follow-up article will cover search laws.

Ninety one thousand dollars for a year in prison

$91,000 it takes to keep a man in prison.  I wonder what else could be done with that money.

UN examines NZ government's performance on civil and political rights

On 15 and 16 March 2010, the government's performance in implementing the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was considered by the UN Human Rights Committee during its 98th session, which was held in New York. The 


Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2006

On 21 October 2009 the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act came into force. This law enables the government to confiscate property and compel people to provide documents and other evidence even where there are no criminal prosecutions. This is done through the sleight of hand of pursuing the forfeitures as ‘civil’ proceedings.

Tribute to Hugh Price

Hugh Price, who died on 28 December 2009, is best known and recognised for his contributions to writing, publishing and education over more than fifty years.  For these accomplishments Hugh received the NZ Order of Merit and a D.Litt (honoris causa) from Victoria University.

That was the public face of this unassuming and quietly spoken man. What is less well-known is his lifelong commitment to human rights and civil liberties.  He played active roles in campaigns against the death penalty, as well as in promotion of the rights of women, gays, the elderly, and other minority groups, both in New Zealand and internationally.  He abhorred secrecy in all its forms, whether it related to selective reporting by the press or the workings of government.  His clear and unequivocal principles were expressed through every facet of his life.

ACTA - Sign the Wellington Declaration

A group of people opposed to ACTA held an alternative open conference called PublicACTA in Wellington on April 10th, 2010. The outcome of this meeting was the Wellington Declaration - a statement about what is wrong with ACTA and how it can be fixed. 

Campaign to Stop the Search and Surveillance Bill

The law on searches and surveillance is inconsistent. Over the years all kinds of agencies have acquired various powers to enter your home or other private premises to gather evidence to support legal action.

Tech Liberty - a new defender of civil liberties in NZ

Tech Liberty an organisation that whose goal is to defend civil liberties in the digital age has generated quite a lot of press recently to two main areas:

  • the internet filter the NZ government is implementing
  • the secret ACTA discussions

Review of Legal Aid

NZCCL raises its concerns with the Ministry of Justice's Legal Aid Review.

Search and Surveillance Bill

The Search and Surveillance Bill has very few measures to protect people’s civil liberties and human rights.

Ban on Gang Insignia

The Wanganui District Council's Prohibition of Gang Insignia Act 2009 and the subsequent WDC bylaw breaches basic liberties.

Even if the by-law is successful in stemming gang activity within the Whanganui district (and NZCCL has considerable doubt that that will be the case) the by-law itself breaches basic liberties. The argument that the end justifies the means was used by the US to justify the use of torture in Iraq and Afghanistan. This legislation legalises intimidation and harassment of gangs on the grounds that gangs themselves may intimidate or harass other people.

AGM with Keith Locke

Please join us to hear Keith Locke speak on "The Future for Civil Liberties in New Zealand" at the NZCCL AGM on Tuesday 24 November 2009

Please join us to hear Keith Locke speak on "The Future for Civil Liberties in New Zealand" at the NZCCL AGM:
Tuesday 24 November
St Andrews on The Terrace

Aussie govt wants NZ criminal records

20 July 2009 | Source: AAP

New Zealanders with criminal records could be prevented from travelling across the Tasman after Australian authorities raised concerns over "the issue of NZ criminals".

NZ anger over seizure of Saddam's stepson

THE AGE: Wellington July 7 2002

New Zealand Muslims are furious that NZ intelligence agencies may have tipped off United States authorities about the family history of an Iraqi-born Aucklander, prompting his imminent deportation

Law student wins civil liberties case

Wyvern, University of Essex, November 2004

A Masters student from the Department of Law has successfully argued that a convicted murderer held in a New Zealand jail was held in conditions that amounted to physical torture.

Tony Ellis, who wrote his dissertation on prisoner's rights, represented Christopher Taunoa and eight other prisoners who were kept according to Paremoremo prison's Behaviour Management Regime (BMR).


Gay sperm donors turned away

RADIO NEW ZEALAND 10:36AM Saturday January 21, 2006

Fertility clinics are turning down sperm donations from gay men because of Australian regulations aimed at curbing the spread of HIV, a fertility specialist says.

A Wellington man says he has been discriminated against after he was rejected by a sperm bank as a donor because he is gay…

Gang Colours in Christchurch

SECTION 14: Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Police in Christchurch want a bylaw to ban gang colours in Christchurch and mayor Garry Moore is behind the move “150 percent”…
Council of Civil Liberties chairman Tony Ellis said, “People have freedom of expression and freedom of movement, and those are quite fundamental human rights.”