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Spycatcher Calls Police Raids Draconian

15th October 2007

Spycatcher Calls Police Raids Draconian and Probably Illegal

The man who successfully sued police for illegally searching his home at the time of an APEC Conference in 1996 has labelled police raids of the homes of social activists this morning as draconian and probably illegal. Canterbury University academic and spokesperson for ARENA, David Small, said the police seem to have learnt nothing from Justice Young’s judgment condemning the police for failing to distinguish between political and criminal activity.

Dr Small says that for search warrants to be legal, the police must have reasonable grounds to believe that they will find what they are searching for. These raids look much more like a fishing expedition.

Dr Small, who addressed a public meeting in Christchurch last Thursday on state security and surveillance, expressed particular concern about the use of the Terrorism Suppression Act in association with the raids.

“The public has been softened up with the threat of Islamic terrorism to give massive increases in the powers and resources of intelligence and security agencies. But it is now clear that the focus of their attention is really on social activists in New Zealand,” said Dr Small

This is exactly what happened in 1996 when opponents of the SIS Amendment Act were called paranoid for saying it would be used against local groups, and less than two weeks later, the SIS were caught breaking into an activist’s home.

“Democratic societies need free and open debate. And groups engaging in this kind of critical activity need the law to protect their rights to do so. Today’s raids have the opposite effect and are clearly designed to intimidate and silence these voices of dissent,” said Dr Small

ENDS

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