Labour welcomes significant changes to Bill

Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party

Labour welcomes the significant changes made to the Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill by the Justice and Electoral Committee, says Labour’s Justice spokesperson Charles Chauvel.Labour welcomes significant changes to Bill

Labour welcomes the significant changes made to the Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill by the Justice and Electoral Committee, says Labour’s Justice spokesperson Charles Chauvel.

Charles Chauvel said the Bill made the four major changes that Labour required in setting out its bottom lines last Thursday following the hearing of evidence in the select committee.

“The Government’s Bill was far too wide and we could not support it. Its definition of ‘search’ was too broad. It was retrospective. The original bill excluded the jurisdiction of the Courts to deal with evidence. And it applied for too long. These were major faults. They have all been fixed. On that basis, the Bill will now have Labour’s support.

“The redrafted Bill is based on the evidence,” Charles Chauvel said. “We would not have had that evidence without the select committee process that National didn’t want to have. It makes a mockery of John Key’s demands that existing investigations be interfered with. The redrafted Bill gives the Police the powers they need, but only those powers. Labour’s bottom lines were as follows:

1. In order to allow the Police to resume covert video surveillance from the date of the Bill’s assent, their powers to do so must be affirmed, but only on the basis of the law as it was understood prior to the Hamed decision, no more broadly than that, and only on the basis of the most serious offending. Labour would have liked the Bill to go further, and provide a warranting procedure, but accepts that the Government left the drafting exercise needed too late to make this happen;

2. The legislation needs to apply for a maximum of six months only;

3. Cases currently under investigation, whether or not yet before the courts, must not be interfered with by Parliament. The Courts must be left free to determine under existing law whether evidence gathered in support of any such prosecutions is admissible. The overwhelming evidence before the committee is that s30 Evidence Act and s21 NZ Bill of Rights Act give the courts this power, and that there is no justification for Parliament to try to intervene. Claims that serious crime will go unpunished have been shown to be misguided. We are satisfied that serious crime will not go unpunished because appropriate safeguards already exist to prevent this;

4. It must be made clear that persons convicted in cases where covert video surveillance was used in the past cannot now seek to overturn their convictions, or seek compensation from the Crown for wrongful conviction or imprisonment, only by reason of the use of covert video surveillance. In other words, the law that applied at the time of conviction must clearly continue to apply, rather than the conviction being measured against a later standard.”

Authorised by Charles Chauvel, MP, Parliament Buildings, Wellington

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