The government and the Police are spinning all the new security measures as a national security matter and a crack-down ONLY on the leaders of organised crime, watching how the worst villains spend their ill-gotten gains and preventing them from corrupting police and politicians (snort) etc.
So it’s all about the big bad guys and not us ordinary schmucks, so the ordinary folk have nothing to fear right?
Wrong. It’s a good old fashioned authoritarian power grab:
Here’s the evidence:
Presumption of innocence dumped. The Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act – gives police the power to seize your stuff even if they merely BELIEVE you bought it with proceeds of crime; to get your stuff back you have to go to Court and prove you’re innocent. This is simply staggering; ‘presumption of innocence a fundamental democratic right enshrined in written constitutions across the globe, and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, where article 11, states: Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which they have had all the guarantees necessary for their defence.
Control of your money. The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act (passed in October) enables police to trace money through financial systems, and calls for your bank to keep an eye on how you’re spending your money and report on you if they think your spending is iffy.
Big Brother. The Search and Surveillance Bill collects all the little privacy invasion measures in other bits of NZ law into one neat handy bundle to help all sorts of government agencies to snoop on you and what you’re saying to your mates, your employer, your doctor, your lawyer, whomever.
Still feel safe? On what basis? That true-blue Kiwi authorities will be responsible with their wide-ranging powers and won’t do anything naughty? Think again:
In December last year, the DomPost revealed that NZ Police teams set up to identify TERRORISM threats and risks to national security were using anti-terrorism powers to spy on protest and community groups, including Greenpeace, animal rights and climate change campaigners, and Iraq war protesters.
Michael Laws’ Whanganui gang patch law has already been used to have a go at a man wearing a baseball cap bearing the logo of an American university. In the same town, the mayor wants to pass a byelaw to deal with boy-racer cruising, but it could easily be used to fine people for driving around the block looking for a parking spot.
In 1999, then Transport Minister Maurice Williamson promised NZers that the new photo driver licence would not become a national identification card by stealth. Do you, or do you not now need to carry your driver licence everywhere?
Consider two examples from the USA, the cradle of democracy. When the USA Patriot Act was passed in 2001 George Bush and his mates declared with patriotic hand on stony heart that the new law would be used only for the war on terror. US citizens could trust the authorities, they promised. Back in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan passed laws that he promised were specifically targeted against big drug lords such as Pablo Escobar who were so insulated by their underlings and laundered cash that the regular constitutional laws couldn’t nab the villains. Does all this sound familiar? How did these laws work in practice?
USA Patriot Act. The law is being used against people who aren’t terrorists or even terrorist suspects at all. Make a guess … out of the 763 ‘sneak and peek’ warrants issued, how many were in fact related to terrorism? Three.
Reagan’s anti-racketeering law the RICO Act is now used against street level crime, making big bad crime lords out of just about any two toe-rags on the street corner yacking about a crime. The law was unconstitutional at the time of being passed, but now every DA in US now uses it as a major part of their toolbox.
It’s an age-old story. When politicians pass coercive laws, they justify it by promising that it is tightly targeted at particular situations or at only to deal to certain types of individual or targeted at groups that most reasonable members of society loathe.
Are the legislators ever willing to dial this sort of thing back? Nope. It has to be nipped in the bud.