NZSIS responding to Inspector-General’s recommendations
9 September 2019
The Director-General of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, Rebecca Kitteridge, has welcomed the release of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security’s (IGIS) latest report.
“NZSIS staff put significant effort into ensuring the Inspector-General had access to all relevant information to prepare her report, Ms Kitteridge said. “I am pleased the Inspector-General found that no NZSIS staff had direct involvement in any unlawful conduct.”
The Inspector-General’s report deals with activity that took place between 10 and 15 years ago.
“Today our activity is governed by the Intelligence and Security Act 2017, which sets out a clear framework for co-operation between the New Zealand intelligence agencies and the intelligence agencies of other countries, and for how we can support New Zealand military engagements overseas. This includes ensuring we comply with New Zealand’s international human rights obligations.
“I take this responsibility incredibly seriously and the Director-General of the GCSB and I wrote to the Inspector-General specifically on this matter. She has included our letter in her report (pg. 8)
“The New Zealand Government has a long-standing and strong opposition to the use of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in all cases,” said Ms Kitteridge.
All cooperation with foreign intelligence agencies must be in accordance with a Ministerial Policy Statement issued by the Minister Responsible for the GCSB and NZSIS. This includes completing human rights assessments of those countries.
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is currently reviewing the Ministerial Policy Statement for co-operation with foreign intelligence agencies and the Inspector-General’s useful recommendations are being considered as part of this process.
The Minister has recently re-issued authorisations for co-operation with our Five Eyes partners based on updated human rights assessments, in response to the Inspector-General’s recommendations.
“The United States of America is a valued Five Eyes partner and the intelligence we receive from American agencies makes a significant contribution to New Zealand’s national security,” said Ms Kitteridge.
“New Zealand’s place in the Five Eyes relationship is supported by an independent foreign policy where we raise issues whenever necessary, including with our closest partners,” Ms Kitteridge said.
The Inspector-General has made comment on intelligence reporting provided to New Zealand as a result of the CIA detention and interrogation programme between 2001 and 2009.
The Inspector-General has recommended the agencies assess and document the provenance of such information and dispose of material containing such information. The Inspector-General notes that the agencies may need to navigate any obligations under the Public Records Act 2005, and if they cannot dispose of this material they should seal it. (Recommendation K).
“NZSIS accepts the Inspector-General’s recommendation and has responded by identifying relevant reports and making them inaccessible to staff while we carry out the fuller assessment and documentation process,” Ms Kitteridge said. “Once this process is complete a decision can be made about whether to dispose of or seal the reports.”