Saturday, December 13, 2008

Oh, so THAT'S what the police are "there for"!

From today's Sunday Star-Times, this story from Nicky Hager and Anthony Hubbard:
"Anti-terror squad spies on protest groups"

Police teams set up to identify terrorism threats and risks to national security are spying on protest and community groups, including Greenpeace, animal rights and climate change campaigners, and Iraq war protesters.

Police officers from the Special Investigation Group (SIG) have carried out surveillance and used a paid informer to gather information not just about planned protests but the personal lives and sexual relationships of group members.

The police informer, Christchurch man Rob Gilchrist, whose activities are revealed in today's Sunday Star-Times, was a key member of various community groups during the past decade. He helped arrange protests and was close friends with leading campaigners, and advocated radical and illegal activities by the groups.

The Police are saying they "will neither confirm nor deny the identity or existence of any informant within any group" - and I think you can work out what that means.

What really struck me in this article, though, was the response from Police Minister Judith Collins. Collins says, "This government wants to ensure [the police] have the tools and the support they need to keep the public safe." So far, so good - one does hope the police have the resources they need to keep us all safe.

But she goes on to say, "From time to time it may be necessary to use paid informants. I think most New Zealanders would find it reassuring that the police are out there keeping a watch on the whole community. That's what they're there for."

Hey Judith, I don't find it AT ALL reassuring that the police are monitoring the political action and personal lives of political activists. And having informants "advocat[ing] radical and illegal activities by the groups" is NOT what the police are there for, and sounds awfully like entrapment to me.

I think I might write a wee letter to our Police Minister this afternoon, and if you'd like to do the same thing you can freepost it to:

Judith Collins
Parliament Office
Private Bag 18888
Parliament Buildings
Wellington 6160

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