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NZ government to legalise black bag jobs
15 December 1998
GOVERNMENT TO INTRODUCE AMENDMENT TO NZSIS LEGISLATION
The Government will introduce an amendment to legislation this week covering
the operations of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, and will also
seek to appeal part of the Choudry decision of the Court of Appeal, Prime
Minister Jenny Shipley said today.
"In Mr Choudry's case, the Court of Appeal pointed out the need for Parliament
to provide express authority for the NZSIS to enter private premises, without
permission, to intercept communications."
"It is vital that the NZSIS is able to carry out its functions properly in
gathering intelligence on security threats to New Zealand. In some rare
instances, this may require covert entry to private property, which the
amendment to the legislation will allow. The existing law had been presumed
to allow this to occur. The Court has said if this is the intention, it
should be made explicit as is the case in Canada, the United Kingdom and
Mrs Shipley said the Government would also seek leave to appeal against one
aspect of the Court of Appeal's decision in Mr Choudry's case. The issue
concerns the procedure the Court should follow when the Government asserts it
is necessary, in the course of litigation against the Crown, to withhold from
the Court, and other parties, access to information, in order to protect
national security interests.
Choudry was a protestor against the 1994 APEC meeting held in Auckland (a
bunch of foreign politicians turned up to talk for a week, shutting down the
city centre in a way that wasn't equalled until Mercury Energy earlier this
year). At the time the SIS's mandate had been widened to include "economic
security", bringing the APEC meeting into its sphere of interest. As part of
the APEC brouhaha, they carried out a black bag job on Choudry and got caught,
causing the government some embarassment. The current bill, rushed through
under urgency just before parliament shuts down (which means it gets
rubberstamped with no scrutiny or debate), would legalise these things in the
future, just in time for the next big politicians powwow next year (which has
already lead to the army invading the university as part of some training
exercise which involved a simulated search for dissidents).
The second part is more worrying, what it'll do is remove any provision for
judicial review of dubious actions by the government by allowing them to claim
national security concerns as a blanket excuse for whatever they do.
Certainly in the Choudry case the real concern was job security, not national