Amnesty report highlights NZ privacy breaches in Pacific
Amnesty International's Annual Human Rights report says New Zealand has breached the right to privacy through the mass collection of data in the Pacific.
Amnesty International's Annual Human Rights report has highlighted the New Zealand government's breach of the right to privacy through the mass collection of data in the Pacific.
Documents leaked last year by the whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that New Zealand's surveillance of its Pacific neighbours has expanded in recent years.
Ben Robinson reports.
Amnesty International's executive director Grant Bayldon says while there's nothing new in the report about the alleged activities of New Zealand's intelligence agencies, there are still unanswered questions.
GRANT BAYLDON: Such as to what extent that surveillance is taking place, how it's being used and where that information is being passed on to. And that's one of the concerns that Amnesty International has is that it's really being shrouded in secrecy. There is no reason that full-take collection should be taking place and there's really no reason that general information about the extent to which surveillance is taking place can't be made public.
The investigative journalist Nicky Hager alleges New Zealand spies on the governments of Pacific nations which he says have been coerced into not speaking out.
NICKY HAGER: I strongly believe that New Zealand Foreign Affairs had a team of people who knew that the Snowden documents were coming and I believe there was pressure on the leadership of those different countries not to rock the boat when the information arrived. Basically telling them that it was not in their interests to make a loud noise about this.
But a senior politics lecturer at Otago University, Dr Iati Iati, says there could be a different explanation as to why Pacific nations aren't complaining.
DR IATI IATI: If you just look at the amount of aid that Australia in particular provides to the region it's the largest aid donor. And then if you look at New Zealand's contribution of aid, which I think the Pacific takes most of New Zealand's aid, you might be able to understand why they have such influence over the regional governments.
New Zealand's inspector general of intelligence and security has launched an inquiry into allegations of interception of communications in the South Pacific. An independent review of New Zealand's Intelligence and Security is also underway, but the Ministry of Justice could not give a timeframe as to when they'd be complete. Nicky Hager says both studies are unlikely to explain the extent of New Zealand's Pacific espionage.
NICKY HAGER: Unfortunately I don't think the reviews that are coming are going to take a South Pacific country view. They're not going to say, hang on a minute why are we doing this, which they should. What they are going to look at is an incidental subject which is that because New Zealand is intensively spying on the South Pacific region, an awful lot of New Zealand citizens get caught up in that.
But the co-leader of the opposition Green party, Metiria Turei, says she has faith that the inspector general of intelligence and security will address New Zealand's spying on Pacific governments.
METIRIA TUREI: The Inspector-General has opened an inquiry into exactly that matter. We wrote to her to make a complaint about those allegations of spying in the Pacific. I certainly think her report will address that concern very specifically and hopefully provide more information for New Zealanders about the extent of New Zealand spying in the Pacific.
Metiria Turei says she's seen no evidence that New Zealand has silenced criticism of its Pacific espionage.
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