New Zealand Search And Surveillance Bill Undermines Journalists’ Rights

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned that a proposed law in New Zealand

will undermine the long-held right of journalists to protect the

confidentiality of sources.

 

If the Search and Surveillance Bill

proceeds in its present form, it will force the country’s journalists to answer

police questions or hand over documents such as media sources and notes. Those who

refuse will face penalties of up to one year in jail.

 

The IFJ recognises that the chairman

of the New Zealand Parliament’s Justice and Electoral Select

Committee, Chester Borrows, acknowledged concerns

about the impact of the Bill on journalists, saying it might warrant further

consideration, according to reports.'

 

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU), an

IFJ affiliate, has called for new police examination and production powers to

be withdrawn from the proposed law.

 

“The IFJ urges the New Zealand

Government to act on its concerns about the Search and Surveillance Bill and

make changes which protect journalists’ right to protect the confidentiality of

sources,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director

Jacqueline Park said.

 

“The law in its current form would seriously

erode these long-held rights, and therefore stands to erode the democratic role

of working journalists in New

Zealand.”

 

At present, New Zealand’s Serious Fraud Office

can force journalists to reveal their sources, while judges can only order a

journalist to do so in restricted circumstances. The revised Bill, which was

put before New Zealand’s

Parliament on November 4, extends this power to police in cases that involve a

substantial jail sentence.

 

For further information contact IFJ

Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125

countries

 

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific