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Thursday, April 08, 2010

a Grave Threat to Democratic Rights




Search and Surveillance Bill a Grave Threat to Democratic Rights

Dougal McNeill, Socialist Aotearoa (Wellington)

Powers of search extended for a range of government bodies, from the
police to WINZ. Assaults on core democratic rights like the right to
silence. Extending police powers around ‘organised crime’ (which can
mean an “association of three or more persons”) and powers into the
future to force us to cough up documents and computer files we have or
may have in the future. These are just some of a range of chilling
provisions included in the Search and Surveillance Bill, an
anti-democratic piece of legislation supported by the whole of the
political establishment. Labour set this attack on our freedoms in
motion, National’s continuing it and, with the honourable exception of
the Greens, no parliamentary party has opposed its erosion of
democratic rights.

The October 15 so-called ‘terror’ raids show us what police will do
with their existing powers, and the thought they may gain more should
alarm every trade unionist and activist, as well as anyone who wants
to hold on to their privacy in this age of the surveillance society.

The Bill must be opposed and last night Wellington saw one stage in
that resistance. Over 70 people came along to a public meeting on the
Bill and engaged in debate and discussion around its implications. The
audience included trade unionists, CTU and union officials, peace
activists, Greens, anarchists and socialists. Chaired by Sandra Grey,
an activist in the Tertiary Education Union, the meeting heard from
veteran campaigner Annamarie Thorby on the Bill’s implications for
democracy and dissent, while Michael Bott from the Council for Civil
Liberties provided legal background.

The next step is action. On Saturday 24th April there will be a
protest march in Wellington, assembling at Cuba / Manners Mall to
march and picket the National Party offices.

When Chapman Tripp law firms, hardly a bunch of radicals, claims that
a plan “radically extends…unprecedented invasiveness” you know
something worrying is going on. It’s up to ordinary people to resist
and assert their democratic rights. The Bill must be opposed.

For more information visit the Stop the Search and Surveillance Bill
blog: http://stopthebillnow.blogspot.com/

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