Wait, what? Can we just go back to that story about Police spying on prison activists?
In a statement of evidence provided to People Against Prisons Aotearoa’s lawyer, New Zealand Police appears to have wiretapped the phones of three PAPA organisers.
The authority to monitor the conversations and messages was established on November 22, 2016. This occurred during an occupation of a Department of Corrections office.
“At this stage we do not know if the surveillance has ended or the scope of the intrusion,” says PAPA spokesperson Emilie Rākete.
“This is a blatant breach of the basic human right to privacy. People with political beliefs inconvenient to the government deserve this right as much as everyone else.”
“It demonstrates the lengths to which the police are willing to go to undermine our organisation. This is a politically motivated attack by the New Zealand Police.”
The organisation is waiting for more information on the matter.
There has been so much attention on the election, incredibly important stories like University of Canterbury Professor, Anne Marie Brady’s, critical analysis of the influence Chinese business interests have over the National Party has been missed and so too this shocking revelation that People Against Prison’s Aotearoa activists have been spied on by the Police.
People Against Prison’s Aotearoa are part of the next generation civil rights movement groups alongside AAAP and JustSpeak who take academic research and demand activist change. They protest but have never been involved in any violent actions and their body of work to date advocating for progressive prison reform and prisoner rehabilitation puts them firmly on the side of the angels.
They were last week discharged without conviction for trumped up Trespass charges for a protest action they were recently involved in and it suddenly transpires that the Police started a wire tap of activists.
Why the fuck the NZ Police are spying on PAPA activists is a question that demands answering.
Yesterday I ranted about the police spying on People Against Prisons Aotearoa. That rant was mostly predicated on the idea that the police had gained a production order for “call associated data” – call records, text messages, and voicemails – from the protesters. But the case has been covered in international media today, including parts of the police statement to the court. And that statement implies that the police didn’t obtain a production order, but a full surveillance device warrant:
A police statement to the court, obtained by VICE, said the phone calls and text messages of those members were continually monitored and recorded, and accessible by the direct investigation staff.
That’s right: the police tapped people’s phones and recorded their calls in a trespass case. One which was so serious that when it went to trial, it resulted in a discharge without conviction.
Supposedly, surveillance warrants are only available for serious crimes – either those with a penalty of 7 years or more in prison, or certain drug and firearms offences. It is difficult to see how a political protest could possibly fall into either category, and therefore how the police could legally have obtained this warrant. And these are certainly not the circumstances which Parliament or the people of New Zealand expected or permitted these spying powers to be used. It is a gross abuse of power, and one which directly threatens our democracy. We should not tolerate it. The police – and the judge who granted this odious, abusive warrant – must be held to account.
…woah, woah, woah there. Back the fuck up.
This wasn’t the Police gaining meta data of activists – which would be questionable in of itself, but the cops sent in a surveillance device to purposely bug the activists???
That’s an enormous ratcheting up of surveillance powers from unacceptable to you’re fucking kidding me.
Taking activist meta data would have been difficult to justify, actually spying on every phone call and email and private message in real time accessible to a range of staff is utterly beyond the intent and purpose of the spying laws they were given!!!
They got those spying laws to supposedly stop an imminent terrorist attack! How the Christ are they justifying using those against Prison Activists?
It’s like sending a SWAT team into deal with Amnesty International!
But then there’s the twist at the end which Idiot Savant stumbled upon…
This may be internal police bureaucratese, but you’d expect a statement to a court about an interception to state the legal basis under which it was carried out. None is included, leaving only this “consent”. Which is obviously a nonsense – a police officer can no more “consent” to tap your phone as you can “consent” to tap theirs. So I really am wondering what the hell went on here. Its outrageous enough if the spying was legal – but if it was illegal, it makes it orders of magnitude worse. And either way, this is not what police, or interception powers, are for.
…so there wasn’t a warrant? Just a ‘consent’? That can’t be right, surely allowing the cops to use these powers is one thing, but allowing them to actually ignore any judicial warrant check and balance is incredibly dangerous.
This story demands far more media attention than it has been given. Please share it widely on your social media networks.