Tuesday, August 25, 2015

National introduces secret trials by stealth

Its no secret that New Zealand's spies want British-style secret courts, with secret "evidence" that the public - and defendants - aren't allowed to see. The Law Commission is currently conducting a review on the issue, and just a few months ago released an issues paper on it. But before the submissions have even been analysed, the government has jumped the gun and inserted secret trials into our health and safety law:

The New Zealand Law Society has expressed its significant concerns at the last-minute addition to the Health and Safety Reform Bill of provisions for a closed material procedure for court proceedings where national security is involved.

The Law Society has written to the Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety, saying the provisions should not have been inserted at this late stage of the legislative process.

The provisions will allow a person to be tried and convicted of a criminal offence without seeing all the information relied on by the Crown and without the right to be present (or to have their representative present) during all the proceedings. This is inconsistent with the fundamental right to a fair trial, the Law Society says.

“We recommend removal of the provisions from the Bill, to await the outcome of an inquiry the Law Commission is carrying out on National Security Information in Proceedings,” Law Society President Chris Moore says.

Because this was done at the committee stage, the amendments were not subjected to a BORA analysis, which it would almost certainly fail.

Meanwhile, I think this tells us everything we need to know about the value of the Law Commission's review. Like the "independent" intelligence review, the spies have already decided the outcome, and the government will execute it for them. The review process is simply a rubber-stamp designed to lend legitimacy to the illegitimate. Its another example of the danger our intelligence agencies pose to our democracy, and why they must be abolished.