Monday, November 07, 2011

This is not justice

National is beating the law and order drum again, announcing a new "civil detention order" regime which will allow convicted criminals to be detained indefinitely, despite having completed their sentences. This will obviously go down well with the "hang 'em high" brigade, for whom no penalty is too vicious. But the rest of us should be deeply worried. This is effectively a system of indefinite detention without trial, applied retroactively as a punishment for offences for which a sentence has already been served. And that flies in the face of the basic principles of our justice system. The far lighter system of extended supervision orders, which National rammed through under all-stages urgency in less than a day, has been found to breach those fundamental rights [PDF]. Its hard to imagine how this can possibly be found consistent, or "demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society".

Clearly, National does not care about that. They regard inconsistency with the Bill of Rights Act as a selling point, not a negative. The rest of us should not be that stupid. These rights are fundamental. They're not just a basic marker of a civilised society; they also exist to protect us against abuses of power by the state. By eroding those protections, National will be opening the door to those abuses. And that is not something we should accept.