We’ve recently seen the NZ Police at their best. Within 21 minutes of the dreadful Christchurch mosque attack they had arrested the prime suspect and by their rapid response prevented further bloodshed. Good on them.
But the police are human and so while we give them enormous powers in order to keep us safe from those who would do us harm and to bring offenders to justice, we also insist that the Police , themselves , keep to the rules otherwise the powers we grant them can be abused.
One of the safety mechanisms the law provides is that the Police should obtain a warrant to search personal things like bank accounts.
And certainly when it comes to the police dealing with politically charged incidents their process of gaining access to such personal data needs to be lawful and transparent.
Earlier this year author Nicky Hager received apologies from police and Westpac over the way 10 months of his banking information was obtained without a warrant during the inquiry into the hacker Rawshark.
Yesterday I learned that Blogger Martyn Bradbury (pictured) has not only had to contend with his personal bank accounts being searched without a warrant but that the police are now seeking a closed hearing of the Human Rights Tribunal to present evidence it does not want made public.
In other words the police want what they did in secret to be judged in secret.
That’s not healthy for our democracy.
It is important that journalists should be free to go about their work without fear of intimidation by Crown authorities.
The police need to front up about why they treated Martyn Bradbury in the way they did and Martyn’s bank needs to apologise to him for the unnecessary stress they have caused him in breaching his privacy.
We need a police force we can trust.
Not one that we fear.
Because the moment that line is crossed it is the beginning of the end for ALL our freedoms.
Kia Kaha Martyn.
Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.