The Human Rights Foundation is calling for the late amendments to the Health and Safety Reform Bill concerning classified security information to be withdrawn to allow for public submissions and consideration of Bill of Rights issues, including by the Attorney General and by the Law Commission which already has the issue under review at the request of the Government.
Endorsing major concerns expressed by the Law Society and others about the late insertion of provision for secret trials, HRF spokesperson Barry Wilson says that ‘The secret trials process is clearly inconsistent with the right to a fair trial in the NZ Bill of Rights, yet the Attorney General has failed to report this when the Bill was came back from the select committee.”
The amendments in the Supplementary Order Paper allow the Director of Security to declare that some provisions of the Bill do not apply to workers carrying out work for the SIS or the GCSB.
Barry Wilson also notes that there has been no opportunity for the public been able to have a say. “It is vital in our democracy that provisions impacting on people’s human rights be subject to robust public debate,” he says.
The SOP is also internally inconsistent as drafted. The changes set out in schedule 2A of the Bill, Clause 1(1)(a), state “….all parties to proceedings have access to classified security information that is to be produced in proceedings;” while later clauses limit such access.
Barry Wilson says the SOP is another example of the flaw in Section 7 of the NZ Bill of Rights Act which requires the Attorney General to identify inconsistencies with the NZ Bill of Rights when a bill is introduced into Parliament, but not when the inconsistency is contained in a Supplementary Order Paper introduced later. Parliament’s own Standing Orders Review Committee has recommended this be corrected.
For further information contact Barry Wilson, Human Rights Foundation of Aotearoa New Zealand
(09) 489 9307