Discussion: Uncivil Rights

  • Russell Brown,

    The police will be able to take DNA samples from people they "intend" to arrest, even though the Attorney General himself thinks it's incompatible with the Bill of Rights. A range of agencies have new search and surveillance powers. And a new asset seizure measure reverses the burden of proof. Did something just happen there?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

158 Responses

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  • Stephen Judd,

    Of course. And the news media and the opposition were asleep.

    Or were they? The same media outlets who profit by fear-inducing exploitative reporting of violent crime can hardly be expected to challenge policies that rely on that fear for support. An opposition whose leader consistently supported "tough" policies over civil rights can not now change direction without accusations of hypocrisy.

    This didn't "just happen". The ground work has been laid by years of sensationalist violence porn news coverage and a political establishment that's happy to capitalise on it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Listening to Rob Pope talk to Mary Wilson (I think) about the new police agency to investigate our massive organised crime problem was interesting.
    <paraphrase> "We don't know if there's a big, scary problem with organised crime, but we're delighted to go looking for one, and odds on, if we spend enough money and do the right PR, we'll find something ... " </paraphrase>
    ~ Brought to you by the Star of the Civic Creche Investigation (and the team claiming NZ's annual black-market in methamphetamines is 'somewhere' between NZ$1.2 and 5 billion. Clearly a Treasury extrapolation based on how much they've been smoking? ) ~

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    <headdesk> <headdesk> <headdesk> <headdesk> <headdesk> <headdesk> <headdesk> <headdesk> <headdesk> CRASH <headfloor> <headfloor> <headfloor> <headfloor> <headfloor> <headfloor> <headfloor> <headfloor> <headfloor> <headfloor>

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    To be slightly more constructive than that last post; there are members of Parliament within the Labour Party, and even within other parties, who share concerns about these issues, but are too small a minority in their caucuses to feel they can speak out without retribution.

    They are the ones who need support in order to get the courage to speak out and create a real debate on these issues.

    New Zealand's strict party discipline severely limits public discourse, and we're all worse off.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Kim_Wright,

    I was doing my morning get ready stuff so I didn't hear if during the morning report interviews Rob Pope or Warren Young was sepcificically asked about the "intend to charge" elements of the new powers.... seems to me this is the most concerning part of the whole shebang; that the "innocent until proven guilty" premis has gone right down the dunny.

    Did anyone hear either of them elaborate on how "intend to charge" would be interpreted, what gaurantees there would be to destroy DNA and other surveillance evidence if charges are dropped/people are found innocent etc?

    Wellington • Since May 2009 • 57 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Did anyone hear either of them elaborate on how "intend to charge" would be interpreted, what gaurantees there would be to destroy DNA and other surveillance evidence if charges are dropped/people are found innocent etc?

    The law is actually somewhat specific.

    It refers to the creation of DNA profiles. These are basically (as I understand it) little snippets of DNA that can be compared against other samples to create a match or fail against a piece of DNA evidence. Like identifying a car with only pictures of the badges and number plate, rather than a picture of the car itself. The actual sample taken will be destroyed, but the profile will remain on record indefinitely.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Regarding the authority to take such a sample, a police officer must have "good cause" to believe an offense has been committed, and may detain the person for the purpose of taking that sample.

    When taking the sample they must also provide the person with written notice saying what the offense suspected was and inform them on that statement of relevant clauses of the law.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Note that, while that agency is new, the reversed-burden-of-proof asset seizure regime actually came from the previous government.

    It might also be useful to know, I'm told that Judith Collins actually became quite animated at the press conference when challenged about human rights issues. You may be able to confirm this with the audio here.

    The immigration bill went through yesterday as well. For once, not (AFAIK) under urgency. Previously on immigration bill & similar: Gordon Campbell On The Erosion Of Justice.

    [Edit: 'came from the previous government' as in was-introduced-by. Iit seems to have passed in April.

    Also, 'boy racers'.]

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Maui Smith,

    The actual sample taken will be destroyed, but the profile will remain on record indefinitely.

    But only if you are convicted of an offence, and that has to be a qualifying offence. Otherwise the profile is destroyed.

    Since Oct 2008 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    On a broader note, it's so not-unprecidented as to be tedious that Parliament has legislated over an Attorney-Gen's negative BORA report.

    And my impression was that Finlayson has been more-than-usually apolitical in his assessments. Though one might still have issues.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    But only if you are convicted of an offence, and that has to be a qualifying offence. Otherwise the profile is destroyed.

    I'm corrected. Thanks.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    DPF is running a poll on his blog about when one would support police taking DNA samples. He says he put 'at birth' in as a joke. Currently 78/510 voted 'at birth'.

    Yet in the thread on the poll my comment has 6 up-votes and no down. Mind you, I suspect there's been more than one instance of missed sarcasm i that thread.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Did something just happen there?

    Since I've been asked off-PAS, one thing that's just happened is I'm very seriously thinking about casting my next party vote for the Greens or the Maori Party. Yet another occasion on which both National and Labour have shown they're somewhat un-serious when it comes to getting why we have certain liberties that were developed over centuries, and shouldn't be lightly abandoned.

    even though the Attorney General himself thinks it's incompatible with the Bill of Rights.

    And whose concerns, as far as I can tell, were pretty much ignored. I've probably had more contact with Chris Finlayson (or 'Tinkerbell' as Trevor Mallard puts it), and if you ask his advice its worth paying attention to. And if the Government isn't interested in doing so, they should re-shuffle him out of the A-G post and stop wasting his time.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    The Zaoui Act (Immigration Act 2009) is by far the worst legislation of this bad bunch.

    I'm going to spare you italics and bold, but most of this deserves to be in highlighted.

    It allows for every non-citizen in the country to be arrested, indefinitely detained, and deported all without charge, on the basis of secret evidence. All of this is with extremely limited grounds for appeal. This applies to every person who is not a citizen. Even if you have lived here for decades. Even if you've been in a relationship for decades. Non-citizens make up hundreds of thousands of residents, by my estimation.

    Anyone who has ever been denied entry to any country for any reason is denied entry to New Zealand.

    Immigration can spy on anyone who is not a citizen in extremely invasive ways, and have far more powers than the police.

    If one is deemed to be a risk to security or otherwise undesirable, the Immigration Department can expel a refugee in ways that fundamentally violate the Refugee Convention: by allowing refoulement to persecution, allowing only torture and death as grounds for challenge expulsion. The Refugee Convention specifically gives persecution as grounds for refugee status.

    Apart from that, the most egregious change relating to refugees is the scrapping of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority. This body has overturned many wrongful decisions - I know refugees who are very likely only alive today because of this body. The scrapping of this body is simply barbaric.

    The entire bill is littered with sections that specifically reflect particular cases that the Immigration Department lost, and does not wish to lose again.

    Gordon Campbell did a much better job of talking about this bill than anyone else, and his analysis deserves to be read.

    You might wonder why I'm complaining now. I fought this bill, and pleaded with Labour Party people I kept contact with to make their opposition to it public. They all did their bit in private, but they were always a minority. I don't feel like talking to them any more, because I don't respect them any more.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Because they didn't get a result, George, or because of how they conducted themselves in your dealings?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I'm very seriously thinking about casting my next party vote for the Greens or the Maori Party

    Kia ora

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Because they didn't get a result, George, or because of how they conducted themselves in your dealings?

    Because I believe that some things are worth standing up publicly and fighting for, because they are right.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Understood. Ta.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Maybe it's just me, but I'm actually not particularly incensed about the changes to the asset forfeiture regime. My stance on civil liberties is pretty liberal, but this one just doesn't get my neck hair up. When you're trying to get at people who are frequently involved in violent crime at high levels, the requirement to pass muster with a jury before the state can seize assets that a reasonable person would conclude were bought with "dirty money" is a ridiculous hurdle. Tainted jurors, anyone? Intimidated witnesses?
    Maybe it's my anti-Rodney streak, but I don't consider property to be worth that much protection. Liberty? Absolutely. Property? Not so much. As I said here, I cannot conceive of a situation where a person who actually has come to own their assets through legitimate means could not prove so to the satisfaction of a balance of probabilities test. It has to pass muster with a High Court judge, which is a pretty good check.

    On the new surveillance powers for a range of agencies, according to Warren Young, deputy head of the Law Commission and the author of the Bill, it's meant to prescribe the use of existing powers not grant new ones. If that's true, this is a perfect example of why urgency is bad and the public consultation process is good. To quote from that article, says Chester Borrows, "if that was the intent, the submitters' views meant the bill was obviously so unclear that it would need to be amended."
    Consequently, I'm going to reserve judgement on this one until we find out if the intent has been clarified. Be thankful that National didn't rush this one through under urgency (Craig, I don't care who was in charge when this one was drafted, National are the ones who love playing urgency and they're the ones in power now), when it seems that there's quite significant divergence between the drafters' intent and the likely way the Bill would be interpreted by the courts.

    Not happy about the DNA thing, but at least the profiles aren't held if no conviction results. That would really be inexcusable, whereas forced taking of samples without a court order is merely of the same order as fish that's been lying on a Mediterranean beach for a week.

    That immigration bill is still that awful? Fuck! No surprises that Labour aren't doing anything about it, when Goff is such a crypto-fascist and it's a Labour bill in the first place. I guess it's too much to hope for Act to be a proper liberal party. Where are the Maori Party? The Greens are a given, but because they're a given they don't attract much notice to these issues.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY,

    I'm very seriously thinking about casting my next party vote for the Greens or the Maori Party.

    Despite many of the policies of the Greens being plain barmy, I'll give them one thing: at least they stand up for what they believe. I wish I could say the same thing about Labour.

    Labour has done a pretty poor job in opposition, and appears perfectly happy to hand to the law and order mob everything they want. With Goff in charge you have to ask yourself why would you bother voting for them? They're just National-Lite. it's no wonder they're languishing in the polls.

    I'm wondering why I bothered voting Labour in the last election.

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Despite many of the policies of the Greens being plain balmy

    It's that global warming. Oh, nice edit.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    With Goff in charge you have to ask yourself why would you bother voting for them? They're just National-Lite. it's no wonder they're languishing in the polls.

    So true. Literally nearly all of the life-long Lab. voters I know - at least, those with whom I've discussed it - have given up on them for now - and these aren't radical lefties, just normal progressives - and decamped to support for the Greens, for want of a more appropriate home.

    I have no connection with or knowledge of the internal workings of the Labour party, but can only assume that there must be massive wranglings over their direction at the moment, even if just on a pragmatic, rather than idealogical, basis.

    They really need to realise that National-Lite is like light beer; ie no bloody use to either those who want the real thing or those who specifically don't.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    decamped to support for the Greens

    One wonders why their poll ratings are dropping.

    like light beer; ie no bloody use to either those who want the real thing or those who specifically don't.

    Bravo.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Dear lord, that Immigration Act appears quite the nasty piece of work. I would have hoped this would have been more of an issue, but I don't recall ever seeing it mentioned it through my casual reading of the media from afar this last two or so years.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    I don't recall ever seeing it mentioned it through my casual reading of the media from afar this last two or so years.

    I don't recall ever seeing it mentioned through my not-so-casual reading of the media from a-near, either. Probably because the first five pages of Google results for sites in NZ that refer to "immigration bill" returns only one relevant result from an actual news outlet (as opposed to Scoop). One result! And as you can see, it's a very, very lightweight result.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

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