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Big Brother is Watching? And Photographing? And Fingerprinting?
was Keith Locke’s query on 4th April, warning that US plans to fingerprint and photograph everyone visiting that country could lead to a universal ID system, with huge ramifications for individual freedoms and human rights.
“Fingerprinting is for people accused of a crime, not law-abiding citizens,” said Keith, the Green Party’s Human Rights spokesperson. “Do we really want to see a universal ID card, with everyone’s fingerprint and facial recognition characteristics built into a chip?
“New Zealand should be joining those countries who are protesting these measures, perhaps even joining Brazil, which has fingerprinted American visitors in retaliation for the US move.
“So far, the New Zealand government has been meekly complying with American demands in this area and trying to meet that country’s October 26th deadline for biometric details to be inserted in a chip on every New Zealand passport.
“The indications have been that digital facial recognition characteristics will be put on the chip, but after yesterday’s announcement it is likely New Zealand will be told to include fingerprints as well.
“These measures intrude not only on the privacy of New Zealanders visiting America but also the thousands of us forced to stop over there en-route to other destinations,” said Keith.
Court Decision means that Greig should be ‘Outski’
said Keith on 31 March. He was hailing the High Court determination that the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security should be taken off the review of the Ahmed Zaoui case after showing apparent bias.
“This is a tremendous victory for Mr Zaoui and for fairness in our justice system,” said Keith. “The Prime Minister owes the public an apology for backing an Inspector General whose apparent bias against refugees meant that he couldn’t properly review the Security Risk Certificate the SIS issued against Mr Zaoui.
“She has no choice but to take Mr Greig off the case, if he doesn’t resign first. Laurie Greig should also be sacked from the post of Inspector General. The court decision shows Mr Greig was too much in bed with the SIS, one of the two security agencies he is supposed to be reviewing. Rather than be our watchdog over security agencies, Mr Greig has proven to be their lapdog.
“The Government has now lost on all three issues it has defended in the High Court and should quit while it’s behind. It would be unjust for the Government to now proceed with its case to the Court of Appeal to have human rights taken out of the Inspector-General’s consideration of the Security Risk Certificate.
“At the very least Mr Zaoui should be transferred from prison to the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre or be bonded to stay with a respected member of the community while his case is heard. It would be an obscenity for him to be forced to stay in jail for two years or more while a replacement for Laurie Greig is appointed and further proceedings ensue,” said Keith.
Passports in Peril
. On 29 March Keith expressed concern at the Prime Minister’s comments that passport rules were being changed under pressure from the United States.
“We shouldn’t be undermining our fundamental citizenship rights just to please the Bush Administration,” said Mr Locke, the Green Party’s Human Rights Spokesperson.
“Ms Clark’s statement has confirmed my fear that the proposed changes are not motivated by analysis of our own needs, but rather those of another government.
“Internal Affairs Minister George Hawkins today said we don’t need to worry because we can appeal a Minister’s decision to cancel our passport in the High Court. But why should law-abiding New Zealanders who want to travel have to go through the sort of drawn-out legal proceeding that we have seen in the Ahmed Zaoui case?
“It is easy to see where the granting of these powers could lead, because it has happened before in the United States during the McCarthy period, where left-wing activists, including the then famous singer Paul Robeson, had their passports taken away.
Keith had already expressed concern at the Government’s plans to amend the Passports Act, saying they appear to remove long accepted citizenship rights.
“As reported, the changes would give the government arbitrary powers to cancel a New Zealand passport on the grounds of national security,” said Mr Locke, the party’s Human Rights spokesperson.
“The Ahmed Zaoui case shows how dangerous it is to give a Minister, hiding behind a wall of secrecy, such draconian powers.
“If a New Zealander is guilty of some crime then put them before a court of law, but don’t give a Minister the sole power to stop people who haven’t been charged from going overseas.
“Several other changes in the bill will unnecessarily inconvenience new residents. There is no good reason to increase the qualifying period for citizenship from three to five years, or to end the discounting of time spent here on work or student permits.
“Our present system isn’t broken, so we don’t need to fix it.
“The Greens are also very concerned at reports that the bill will remove automatic citizenship from children born here, if their parents do not have residence. This would remove a long-recognised human right, and its absurd to think the country would be flooded with such people coming back to settle here when they have grown up,” said Keith.
Bougainville, Aceh and Indigenous Rights.
A book and video on
are being launched/shown over the next week, in Palmerston North, Wellington and Christchurch. Check the PMA
‘What’s On’ listings
In Wellington on Wednesday, 14 APRIL at 7:30 p.m in the Murphy Building, Victoria University, there is a public meeting on the situation in
- Also at Victoria University on Friday April 16 there is a workshop from 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. on ‘Indigenous People’s Rights in International Law and Fora’ – see the PMA ‘What’s On’ listings for details.
More Security, Less Spying
was Keith’s message in speaking at the second reading of the Telecommunications (Interception Capability) Bill. As he points out, Greens and other progressive people have far more experience of terrorist acts directed at them in New Zealand than those on the other side of politics – and far better ideas on how to prevent them. More electronic snooping is not the way.
”The Green Party will be opposing this bill, as it has previously.
We do not see the need to grant these powers to the police and the intelligence agencies at this time. No objective case has been made, either in terms of this bill or the other bill that authorises such interceptions, the Crimes Bill Amendment Bill (No 6), which passed through the House a year or so ago, that we would catch many more criminals, be they terrorists or anyone else through the exercise of these powers.
In our opinion, the downside is much greater than the upside. No one doubts that by having greater surveillance, be it electronic interception or cameras in the streets or whatever, we can catch more criminals, but we have to have an objective analysis of the situation. With any advance of surveillance or security powers, we have to analysis whether the downside for privacy and civil liberties is greater than the upside. We believe the downside is greater.
The argument being advanced so far in the debate, by several speakers including the last, is that we live in a new era of terrorism. Unfortunately, Ron Mark basically said that if the Greens were affected by terrorism, they would think differently. I thought I would start at that point. Just over 20 years ago, on 27 March I was living in Wellington, and on my way down the Petone motorway to go to a meeting of the Wellington Trades Council where I was a delegate from the railway workers union. On my car radio I heard about a bombing at the Wellington Trades Hall. One of the people I was expecting to see at that meeting was the caretaker of the hall, Ernie Abbott, who I knew well and talked to a lot. When I arrived at the meeting I heard that he had been blown up by a terrorist bomb.
The second incident – there have been only two terrorist incidents in New Zealand over the last few decades – occurred on 10 July 1985. Friends of mine had come in on the Rainbow Warrior. They were active in the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Movement, and I knew that other friends of mine were visiting the Rainbow Warrior. I was living in Auckland at that time, and when I heard that there had been a bomb on the Rainbow Warrior I was very fearful for their safety. So the idea that people in this House, and myself in particular, are not aware of the problems of terrorism and its effects on those closest to us is quite wrong.
I think what needs to be borne in mind is that those two incidents of terrorism were terrorist acts against left-wing and progressive people. So the idea that people of my political persuasion are not on the receiving end of these things and do not understand them is completely wrong.
We hear talk that we are not in benign strategic environment and that there is a whole new era of terrorism, but we need to look objectively at the situation. We need to look at Australia, where there has not been recent terrorism, but there is history of terrorism. Again, terrorism was much more prevalent in Australia in an earlier period, particularly that of some Croatian neo-fascists who set off a whole lot of bombs.
If we look at the other countries mentioned, we see that there have been some very dramatic terrorist acts over the last year or two, particularly Madrid, Bali, and September 11. In the cases of Madrid and Bali, because of the placement of those bombs there was horrific loss of life, which we have all been very sad about, and we have been pleased that the Bali bombers have been brought to justice, and hope that the Madrid bombers will be, as well.
If one looks at Spain, historically the incidence of terrorism in earlier periods has been much higher, particularly the ETA bombings, and in Indonesia historically the incidence of bombing has been much greater before September 11, 2001.
In Britain, the incidence of terrorist bombings has been historically much greater through the IRA period. Looking at Europe as a whole, with Red Army factions, Red Brigades, and all the rest of it, there has been a much greater incidence of bombing in a previous period. Leaving September 11 aside, the interesting thing about the United States is that going from the period 1998 to now, it has been at a historic low point in terms of terrorism compared with earlier periods when there were Symbionese Liberation Army, people bombing Oklahoma, the Weather people, etc.
So the idea that we are in some new age of terrorism is statistically false – but this is not to say that there is not a problem, particularly generated from concerns in the Islamic world and in extremist sections of the Islamic community.
The idea that one has to have these powers now, is incorrect. When talking about a benign strategic environment, one must look first at where the problem is of countries going around and invading and occupying other countries. The prime problem with the world today is that there is only one country, the United States, with its allies, and unfortunately New Zealand is being dragged along in one instance. The United States has invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq. This is the cause of a lot of the upsets throughout the Islamic world, which unfortunately gives some of those Islamic extremists some degree of support for the horrific actions they carry out.
One has to remove the cause of terrorism, and particularly address the cause that has been highlighted over the last week, which is the continuing occupation of Palestinian lands by Israel. This has been a running sore and has caused a lot of the terrorism we have seen over the last decades. In fact, Palestinian terrorism in earlier times was internationalised. It was at the Munich Olympics and in a lot of aircraft hijackings.
To really root out those international forms of terrorism by small groups and non-State actors, one has to deal with the underlying problem in that region, rather than be part of the problem by, for instance, sending the New Zealand SAS back to Afghanistan.
New Zealand is involved in this electronic surveillance already, particularly through the Waihopai Valley tracking station near Blenheim, which is part of the US-led Echelon five-nation network, and what has that involved us in? It has involved us in very nefarious activities. It was exposed recently that the network spied on Kofi Annan and other UN officials, and there were reports in the Australian media that New Zealand had received a transcript of one of the interceptions of Kofi Annan. Unfortunately, the Government has pleaded secrecy on security matters as a reason for not reporting to the House whether in fact this is true. I think what that issue and the whole issue of Waihopai, which now links up with Echelon, shows is that the use of electronic interception is part of New Zealand being an intelligence dependency of particularly the United States and, alongside it, Britain, Australia, and Canada.
The description to Supplementary Order Paper 197 to this bill, which has just been put forward and which members will talk about later, shows again that there is unwarranted interception through Waihopai; that is, interception without a warrant. That is explicitly allowed in this bill, and it is very dangerous because it means that we do get involved in such things as spying on Kofi Annan, or – what also became public about a year ago – the National Security Agency issuing instructions to its overseas partners such as in Britain, and presumably New Zealand, to launch spying on UN delegates, particularly those from countries that were believed to be wavering on a United Nations resolution prior to the American invasion of Iraq. For us to be involved in that sort of thing – using the electronic intelligence this bill is authorising and putting into practical effect – would be quite wrong.
We know that electronic intelligence is used for nefarious purposes and that intelligence agencies themselves are very untrustworthy. There is huge debate going on in Britain, in Australia, and in the United States in particular about the way in which intelligence is being altered and manufactured. It can be done very easily with electronic intelligence. The material coming through into computers can be altered, manufactured, and reinterpreted very easily. So it is a very dangerous road to go down when New Zealand intelligence agencies and, to an extent, the police are in a dependent relationship to such intelligence.”
The speech can also be found at
Telecommunciations (Interception Capability) Bill – Second Reading
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