“Political Police” Inquiry Call Long Overdue
“Political Police”Inquiry Call Long Overdue
13 May 2000
PO Box 1905
A full inquiry into the role of the Police Criminal Intelligence Service’s surveillance and information-gathering on political organisations and activists is long overdue, says Aziz Choudry, the GATT Watchdog organiser who successfully sued the SIS after they illegally broke into his Christchurch house in July 1996. In court, CIS officers have testified to trying to conceal the true identity of the SIS agents in the incident after questions were raised by Mr Choudry and university lecturer David Small, who uncovered the botched break-in.
“I am pleased that such a wide range of individuals and organisations has endorsed a call for a select committee inquiry into the CIS. While the concerns which sparked yesterday’s call arose from the David Small case, this is a nationwide issue. And they are nothing new – this has been going on for years. There will be many other organisations, communities, and people who are viewed with suspicion by Police for their political activities and sympathies.”
“New Zealand likes to think of itself as a democracy, where people have freedom of expression, association and political belief. However our experiences tell us that both the CIS and the SIS operate with a cavalier disregard for those rights. The CIS’s work in this area seems to be in line with political elements in other police forces elsewhere in the world which routinely monitor, harass, and attempt to criminalise legitimate political organisers and activities. Perhaps it should be renamed the Political Intelligence Service. Or the Thought Police – then we’d all know where we stand.”
“I think most people would be deeply concerned at the CIS’s level of interest and surveillance of political organisations and individuals in New Zealand – I am sure that many ordinary policemen and women would be surprised too. Worse still is a mindset within the CIS towards a range of organisations and individuals which seem to view them as guilty until proven innocent on the basis of their political beliefs,” he said.