Wednesday, June 05, 2024

SIS "evidence" isn't, again

Back in 2016, then-Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne cancelled a New Zealand woman's passport, claiming she was a terrorist. The basis for his decision was a secret briefing by the SIS, which claimed that if she was allowed to travel, the woman would "engage with individuals who encourage acts of terrorism". The Supreme Court has now ruled that that decision was unlawful and invalid:

In its judgment released today, the court found the minister did not have reasonable grounds to believe the woman intended to facilitate an act of terror, and the briefing paper provided to the minister by the SIS was not fair, accurate, or adequate.

The judgement said Dunne's reliance on the woman potentially travelling to Syria to join a terrorist group fell short of the requirement under the law that the person be an actual danger to a country, not just a potential one.

The judges also found the law required there be evidence that the passport holder intended to travel and facilitate in a terrorist act, and Dunne did not have reasonable grounds to believe this - a higher standard than just suspecting it.

So, once again, SIS "evidence" turns out to be a tissue of lies and assertions when subjected to independent judicial scrutiny - just as it was in the Zaoui case. No wonder they kept the entire trial under a cloak of secrecy.

Obviously, this invites serious questions about why the SIS is so bad at its job, and why Ministers persist in relying on their "evidence" when it so obviously and so publicly gets it wrong whenever tested. And it invites serious questions about the quality of the "security assessments" they apply to visa applicants, and whether those assessments are also similarly unfair, inaccurate, and inadequate. A serious government, and a serious opposition, would be asking those questions. But given the way these things normally go, instead we'll see legislation to prevent judicial scrutiny of such decisions, rammed through under all-stages urgency, with the full support of the Labour Party.