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Letter to PM on SIS Review


Letter to PM on SIS Review

The following letter has been sent to the Prime Minister by David Small and Leigh Cookson on behalf of 17 organisations calling for a full and independent judicial review of the operations of the SIS.

SIS Inquiry Petitioners Box 1905 Christchurch

Rt Hon Helen Clark The Prime Minister Parliament Buildings Wellington

26 November 2004

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing on behalf of the undersigned Christchurch and national organisations to urge you to authorise a full independent judicial review of the operations of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service.

The recent revelations about SIS surveillance of the Maori Party and Maori organisations are consistent with a long and disturbing list of incidents involving the SIS that give the distinct impression that the Service is working to a political agenda that is inconsistent with its statutory obligations and unacceptable to the vast majority of New Zealanders.

These incidents include operations targeting the anti-Apartheid movement around the time of the 1981 Springbok tour, activities at the time of the 1996 APEC Trade Ministers’ meeting in Christchurch which the courts ruled to be illegal, and a host of actions in relation to Ahmed Zaoui such as the clandestine recording of interviews, alleged loss of the tapes of those interviews, the preposterous interpretations of Mr Zaoui’s holiday videos, and the presentation of patently unreliable sources of information to the Refugee Status Appeals Authority.

Given the role and widespread powers of agencies like the SIS, it is crucial that they are subject to rigorous control and oversight. This has become even more pressing in light of the powers and resourcing of the SIS being increased in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.

Submitters to the Select Committees processing this legislation have consistently expressed concerns about legitimate political activity being subject to SIS attention, and have been given constant assurances that this would not happen. But the evidence available to the public indicates that the SIS is continuing to monitor legitimate activities of New Zealanders.

We believe that nothing short of a full independent judicial inquiry into the SIS is acceptable. To restore public credibility, the inquiry cannot be conducted by the established oversight mechanisms.

It cannot be conducted by the Intelligence and Security Committee because much of the SIS’s apparently unacceptable activity has occurred under the watch of that committee. And, irrespective of the standing of the current Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, that office has proved completely ineffectual in fulfilling its statutory purpose of providing the New Zealand public with a means of holding the SIS accountable for its actions.

We trust you recognise the gravity of the issues at stake in this matter, and expect you will see the wisdom in our call for a public inquiry.

Yours sincerely,

David Small Leigh Cookson

On behalf of the following groups:

ABC - Anti-Bases Coalition

ARENA - Action, Research & Education Network of Aotearoa

The Association of University Staff

CAFCA - Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa

The Canterbury Council for Civil Liberties

CCANZ - Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV)

The Christchurch College of Education Students' Association

Christian World Service

GATT Watchdog

New Zealand Nuclear Free Peacemaking Association

New Zealand University Students’ Association

The Peace Foundation

Peace Movement Aotearoa

Quaker Peace and Service

Southern Regional Secretary, Service and Food Workers Union

Student Christian Movement

The Peace Foundation Disarmament and Security Centre


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