Wait, what? Can we just go back to that story about Police spying on prison activists?

By   /   October 4, 2017  /   17 Comments

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This story demands far more media attention than it has been given. Please share it widely on your social media networks.  

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.

Vice and Idiot Savant have been asking…

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.
1506635656627-Screen-Shot-2017-09-29-at-104546-AM.png
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…

Update: This gets worse. I’ve obtained the police statement, and there’s no mention of a warrant at all – just a “consent”, given by a police officer, to tap the phones of other people:
ProtestWiretap

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.

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17 Comments

  1. CLEANGREEN says:

    “Why the fuck the NZ Police are spying on PAPA activists is a question that demands answering.”

    As anyone of usthat speaks up for our rights will know weare all being ‘surveilled now’ because the last national government allowed the police to intervene in spying on us all and use/force our media and web service providers to allow them a back doorto read our emails and communications as if we were in a police state now.

    So when the incomming Labour Lead Government is setup they need to disban this over reach into our civil liberties.

  2. Sam Sam says:

    Yeah. Big oil successfully upgraded activism into terrorism remember. Further smashing civlliberities with the hammer.

  3. Michal says:

    This is truly disgusting, step out of ‘their’ line and they do whatever they like.

  4. Patrick says:

    Loved the photo.
    Where did you get it from?
    Venezuela?

  5. Tom says:

    Look what happened in Spain – Stand Up Now or we’ll be going down the same road very soon.

  6. Patrick says:

    Come on, NZ is about as far from a police state as you can get.
    If you have ever lived in a police state you would understand, but so many contributors and posters on this blog seem so desperately short of life experience and appear to have always lived in the cocoon that is NZ.

  7. Marc says:

    So what do our Ombudsmen and the rather government friendly Privacy Commissioner have to say to this?

    http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/newsroom/item/ombudsman-quarterly-review-september-2017

    http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/ckeditor_assets/attachments/530/Ombudsman_Quarterly_Review_Winter_2017.pdf

    See page 8:
    “A formal agreement signed by the Chief Ombudsman and the Chief Executive of the Department of the Corrections will underpin the continued growth of a constructive and open relationship between the two agencies.”

    And read more about that ‘open relationship’ in there. It does increasingly look like corporate image management, what I see and read on the Ombudsmen’s website.

    Our dear Ombudsman is changing the operation of their office to make it appear to be more efficient, more effective and so forth, but one must wonder, what does it really mean?

    They have created an ‘early resolution team’, which from what I hear is working faster, and tries to get complaints dealt with more swiftly, so they may not need to be formally investigated, but which may also mean, the job done is a bit of a fob off.

    They work with the state departments, agencies and Ministers, and talk about ninety percent of OIA responses now being provided within the stipulated time frame of 20 working days.

    But what about the quality and substance of these responses?

    They signed an agreement with Corrections, which sounds so good, it is hard to believe that Corrections will become all that more transparent and committed to improvements. Would you believe them going and tell the Ombudsmen: “Hey, we screwed up, you better come and look at it”?

    Our Privacy Commissioner often rather seems to concerned to find justifications for agencies’ actions or failures to act, rather than actually address the real issues.

    Now the Police do what the post above is about, and do we honestly believe the Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner may take a hard look at this?

    https://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2016/09/05/the-new-zealand-ombudsman-underfunded-and-compromised-the-auditor-general-sees-no-need-for-action/

    https://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2016/07/24/the-new-zealand-ombudsman-fairness-for-all-an-empty-slogan-for-some/

    And this other, rather senior office holder, officially responsible for the running of the Office of the Ombudsmen, he will not be too bothered to look into much they do anyway, same as the Office of the Auditor General:

    https://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/speaker-of-parliament-complaint-abt-ombudsman-hdc-complt-handling-anon-xx-05-15.pdf
    https://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/speaker-house-of-repr-complaint-abt-ombudsman-office-reply-anon-25-08-15.pdf
    https://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/speaker-of-parliament-complaint-abt-ombudsman-rqst-f-inquiry-reply-to-dec-anon-05-09-15.pdf

    As for TDB, the mainstream media will NOT cover much or anything written about here, as they do not like the ones behind it, and do not like to promote such alternative forums or information sources. They rather continue serving their commercial and government owned masters, that is why hardly anything exposed here gets reported on in the MSM.

  8. Dave says:

    Yawn – nz is not a police state – this article is a waste of space

    • Marc says:

      No, just a country run in a very questionable manner by an old boys network, perhaps with the attachment of a small old girls’ network. Much is swept under the carpet, so called ‘watch dogs’ are more there to appear that something serious is done, but they are mostly without teeth, as even the law they operate under, only gives them damned little powers to do anything of substance.

      The police know this, they operate under a Minister as part of a government, and the government of the day will have their agendas, so any ‘issues’ such as that raised here, it will also be swept under the carpet, while the mostly compliant MSM will focus on small scandal stories about who said what and thus insulted another one.

  9. Andrea says:

    NZ has had police state tendencies for years. Not quite the full-blown peony…yet.

    If you think this is OTT – sign up with WINZ for the trailer and sequels.

    • patrick says:

      Bullshit.
      You have obviously never visited or lived in a police state.
      The differences are huge.

      • KJT says:

        “It is not as bad as the USA, yet. Is not a reason to try and stop moves towards ever greater unjustified surveillance and State control.

  10. The Weatherman says:

    Bet they’ve never bugged a member of the National Party Mafia Youth Spy Wing (David’s Princesses & Made Consiglieres)!

    • patrick says:

      Perhaps not.
      Neither do they routinely shoot suspects through their their calf muscle for minor offenses, stand by while a crowd beats a petty thief to death or shoot anyone who runs in the back – and often they are not running at all.
      In a country I was in last week over the last few months they closed down a newspaper critical to the govt and passed a law that if the leader of an organisation was convicted of a crime the whole organisation became unlawful.
      They then had the leader of an opposition party jailed on trumped up charges and banned the party.
      Shall I go on.
      I repeat NZ is about as far as you can get to a police state.

      • Marc says:

        Not as yet, but we have rather much spent on metadata gathering, boosting the powers of SIS, GCSB and other agencies, and under the Search and Surveillance legislation they can now do many things that not long ago were considered mind blowing and worrying.

        New Zealand always lags behind other ‘developed’ nations by a few years, we are heading to where others are, and they are arming their agencies to the teeth, and give them powers, such as in the US, where you risk being shot, if you do not throw yourself on the ground with hands behind your head fast enough.