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Disappointment at SIS Decision

Media Release

Opponents of the APEC forum were concerned and disappointed at the Court of Appeal judgement in the Choudry case released today.

Four of the five judges have ruled that the SIS does not have to participate in full disclosure of documents relating to their illegal break in of Mr Choudry's house during a 1996 APEC Trade Ministers meeting in Christchurch.

The judges ruled that a certificate provided by Prime Minister Jenny Shipley saying the release of the documents will prejudice national security, an "ongoing security concern" and relate to an "operational matter" is sufficient reason to prevent the High Court Judge in the case from reviewing the documents.

The APEC Monitoring Group agrees with dissenting Court of Appeal Judge Thomas that this ruling effectively gives the SIS and the Prime Minister protection from any real scrutiny of their activities and allows them to use the "mantra of national security" to keep secret from public and judicial view any information they deem to be prejudicial to their activities.

"This judgement is particularly disturbing coming as it does in the year New Zealand hosts the APEC forum. The government has already shown its willingness to break the law when it comes to opponents of APEC and its free trade agenda. Given the extreme measures the government has been willing to employ to avoid explaining the activities of the SIS during the 1996 APEC Trade Ministers meeting any assurance given that opponents of APEC in 1999 will have their right to dissent protected and respected can only be treated with suspicion and contempt" said spokesperson Leigh Cookson.

Harrasment of APEC opponents has already begun with SIS and Police Threat Assessment Unit officers visiting the homes and workplaces of people from migrant communities. There is real concern that the presence of the officials and leaders of the 21 APEC nations in New Zealand will be used by the National government as an excuse to harass and spy on the opponents of its new right economic ideology.

"If as this judgement seems to suggest Jenny Shipley and the SIS are totally unaccountable to Parliament, the judiciary and the New Zealand public then we should be afraid, be very afraid.

ENDS

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