civil liberties

Why aren’t the Greens standing up for civil liberties in this case?

Theft costs New Zealand retailers $2 million a day, but a new company called Eyedentify is confident its cloud-based software can help tackle the problem.

The software helps police and retailers share information about thieves so they can work out who is most likely to strike, as well as where, when and even which products they’ll target.

“We’ve been working with retailers and police across the country now for over a year,” says Eyedentify chief executive Phil Thomson. “We’ve had some really good success in identifying the repeat offenders who are hitting multiple stores and multiple retailers.”

Like the movie Minority Report, the idea is to gather information and use it to strike before a crime is committed.

That’s profiling. ?And race will be part of the profiling stats. ?And it is going to get shared around. Read more »

Gutsy decision to rein in Aussie Human Rights Commission

Judith Collins could learn from Australia’s Attorney-General George Brandis who has just set the cat amongst the pigeons with a new appointment to their Human Rights Commission.

Senator Brandis said Mr Wilson’s appointment would “restore balance to the Australian Human Rights Commission” which, he said had “become increasingly narrow and selective in its view of human rights” under Labor.

He praised Mr Wilson’s credentials for the role.

“He has published and broadcast widely on the topics of personal freedom, liberal democratic values and the rule of law. He was at the forefront in thwarting recent attempts to erode freedom of speech, freedom of the press and artistic freedom – rights and freedoms Australians have always held precious.” ? Read more »

Power capitulates

Good. Simon Power has had to capitulate over his attempts to remove the right to silence.

Justice Minister Simon Power has raised the white flag on his controversial criminal justice reforms, committing to preserving the right to silence and substantially watering down other aspects to pass the bill with cross-party support.

The concessions – which include compromises with the Labour Party on the rules around jury trials, having a trial proceed in the absence of the accused, and the ability of the court to impose fines – follow a week of intense and fast-moving negotiations with several parties.


No Right Turn on trusting politicians to protect our rights

It isn’t often that I agree with Malcolm Harbrow at No Right Turn, but he has this one nailed:

But there’s a bigger problem here as well. The right to trial by jury for any offence with a penalty greater than three months imprisonment is currently?enshrined in the Bill of Rights Act. Simon Power is proposing to amend that clause. And he can, with a simple majority of the House (in this case, its a majority of zombies and crazies – Roger Douglas and Hilary Calvert). But this is a fundamental part of our constitution we’re talking about! If they can do this, they can also do it to freedom of speech, or the right to vote.

If there’s one thing this debacle has taught us, its that politicians can’t be trusted as guardians of our fundamental rights. It is time to take those rights out of their hands, by entrenching it and requiring either a supermajority or a referendum to modify. We currently?do this with the core of the Electoral Act; its time we did it for our other rights as well.

It is a pity he isn’t so keen on holding the politicians to account with the gerrymandering of the electoral system as proposed with the MMP referendum. The thought that the same politicians he holds in such low esteem will be responsible for suggesting and making changes to MMP should it be retained. This is another case where supermajorities need to be used.

Power backs down

The government has backed down on the removal of the right to silence.

It is understood Mr Power will now dump plans to abolish the right to silence and involve the Rules Committee. A spokesman for Mr Power said the minister was pragmatic about the bill.

“He wants to move this along and is always prepared to negotiate, especially to make progress on such an important piece of legislation.”

The spokesman said Mr Power would “do what is takes to get this bill moving”.

With the support of the three ACT MPs and United Future leader Peter Dunne, the Government has the numbers to pass the bill, but by a less than ideal one-vote majority.

Mr Power will be hoping dropping plans to remove the right to silence will bring Mr Boscawen and Mr Hide on board, giving the Government a three-vote majority.

Good show. I had severe reservations about leaving the writing of laws to a Rules Committee of “legal experts”. Imagine of one of those legal experts was Judge Phillipa Cunningham.

Mark Steyn on Free Speech

As parliament looks to remove the right to silence it is perhaps appropriate to also look at the flip side to the right to silence, that is the right to free speech. Mark Steyn comments in?the?Australian.

Restrictions on freedom of speech undermine the foundations of justice, including the bedrock principle: equality before the law. When it comes to free expression, Britain, Canada, Australia, and Europe are ever less lands of laws and instead lands of men-and women, straights and gays, Muslims and infidels-whose rights before the law vary according to which combination of these various identity groups they belong to?

As John Milton wrote in his Areopagitica of 1644, ?Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.?

Or as an ordinary Canadian citizen said to me, after I testified in defense of free speech to the Ontario parliament at Queen?s Park, ?Give me the right to free speech, and I will use it to claim all my other rights.?

Conversely, if you let them take your right to free speech, how are you going to stop them from taking all the others?