Be part of our political process. Please. - Tactical Ninja
Sep. 28th, 2011
08:59 am - Be part of our political process. Please.
[update] You can now submit on the bill. You have until midnight tonight. Yes that's right, they've given us 12 whole hours to tell them what we want.
So the Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill passed its first reading in Parliament last night, under urgency. In case you're wondering and can't be bothered reading, the votes were 105 for, 15 against. Labour flipped and supported it.
*pause here to go chuck my cookies at the state of the so-called opposition here in New Zealand*
So the bill will now go to select committee, and we will supposedly be asked for submissions. So far we haven't been - it's not on the list of Bills for submission yet. I can't urge you enough to make a submission on this. Parliament here makes making a submission very easy - you can do it by email and they often provide guidance on how to do it. Whether any attention is paid is another matter, and here's where every person who's capable of typing a line in this country should be having their say on this issue.
In essence, what this bill will do is allow covert video surveillance footage obtained without a warrant on private property to be admissible as evidence in court. Previously the default has been that it would be inadmissible but with a caveat that the judge can rule it admissible if the case is sufficiently serious to warrant it. This change will make it legal for the police to install cameras on private property without first obtaining a warrant, and then use the footage in court to convict people.
Now, we have a warranting process for a reason - it's a check/balance to ensure the police have reason to believe they will find evidence of a crime. They have to convince a regulatory body that there is sufficient cause to believe a crime is being committed before being allowed to charge in and start searching people. Yes, video surveillance constitutes a search. The change of this law will theoretically allow police to perform searches without a warrant and use anything they find as evidence.
Dunno about you, but this bothers me a lot. It removes another barrier to potential police corruption for a start. It makes it possible for the police to invade the privacy of any New Zealander without anyone going "Oi why are you searching those people?" And it removes the opportunity for recourse if you're the victim of a warrantless search. Our Bill of Rights Act states "Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure, whether of the person, property, or correspondence or otherwise.". To me, having the police sneak into my house and install video equipment to film me going about my life, with no other justification than "We want to" constitutes an unreasonable search. This is a fundamental attack on our human rights.
The Bill will also be retrospective. Apparently this means that 50 cases currently before the court will be affected by the admission of footage covertly obtained without a warrant. In English: the cops have already been filiming people illegally, and this bill will make it legal and change the outcome of 50 court cases.
Now you could say "That's great! All those criminals being brought to justice where they would have got off!" Only, remember we already had that caveat that allowed this evidence to be admitted if the case was considered serious enough. Now it'll be carte blanche. This is a fundamental attack on our justice system by changing the law to exonerate the police for illegal activities they have already carried out, and to sway the results of court cases in their favour.
Here's a copy of the Bill if you're into reading legalese. I know some of you are.
Here are well-thought-out summaries from three people of what's wrong with the bill that I think are worth reading (fodder for your submission):
Dean Knight from the Faculty of Law at Victoria University.
Andrew Geddis of Pundit, and a follow-up that clearly spells out our options.
And if reading those doesn't convince you that you should have something to say about this, I don't know what will. Please, make a submission. Imagine if they got 250,000 submissions. Seriously, other than voting, making submissions is one of the few ways you can make your voice heard in this country.
If getting out in the streets and banging pots is more your style, there's a protest march on Saturday. Meet in Cuba St at 2pm. Not sure if things are happening elsewhere in the country, but I hope so.
Have I been clear enough? Please - make a submission.
Meanwhile, it seems organisers of the Arab Spring, Julian Assange and Wikileaks have all been nominated for Nobel prizes. So has Sima Samar. Personally I'd like to give it to all of them (except Assange - I think Wikileaks deserves it more). Being on that judging panel must be a really tough job.
Oh, and on the house front, it turns out there had been some small damage to the wall in the lounge in three places. The tenants had fixed it with plastering, but then painted over with the wrong colour so it's obvious. The agent is getting the painters in (heh) to sort it out and the owner will pay. The oven hadn't been cleaned and the kitchen floor is sticky from the leaving party, but other than that it's good. *phew*