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Locke backs Brash / Peters call for SIS inquiry

22 November 2004

Locke backs Brash / Peters call for independent SIS inquiry

Green MP Keith Locke is supporting Don Brash and Winston Peters’ calls this morning for an independent inquiry into allegations that the SIS has been spying on Maori groups.

“I agree with Don Brash’s comment that the inquiry needs to be independent and Mr Peter’s view that it needs to be separate from the system,” said Mr Locke, the Green Party’s Spokesperson on Security and Intelligence.

“Jim Anderton’s assertion that the Intelligence and Security Committee should deal with the accusations is not credible.

“The Intelligence and Security Committee is forbidden by legislation from ‘conducting inquiries into complaints by individuals concerning the activities of an intelligence and security agency’.

“Such complaints can be dealt with by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, but there is little confidence in that office following the former Inspector-General Laurie Greig’s handling of the Zaoui affair and his earlier whitewashing of the SIS’s illegal search of the home of Christchurch activist Aziz Choudry.

“In any case, the latest allegations raise broad questions of whether the SIS is targeting political dissenters and whether it is using underhand methods, both matters which would be better tackled by a wide-ranging independent inquiry.

“Recent inquiries into intelligence agencies overseas have produced useful recommendations for improved accountability mechanisms.

“Certainly, the Intelligence and Security Committee is of little use as an oversight body. Its mandate is too narrow. It is not independent, being chaired by the Minister in Charge of the SIS, the Prime Minister, who also appoints two of the committee’s four other members. And the committee barely functions, having met for only three hours in two years [See the Prime Minister’s answer, dated August 31, to my parliamentary Written Question, No. 11189.]

“Nothing but an independent inquiry will satisfy public concerns about the service,” said Mr Locke.

ENDS

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