Rarotonga, Cook Islands –
Spying on journalists by authorities in New Zealand is potentially dangerous to the future health of democracy in that country – and the region, warns the Pacific Freedom Forum.
"Government in New Zealand needs to take a bigger picture of its national security arrangements," says PFF Chair Titi Gabi.
"That picture includes all four estates including, yes, the press."
PFF states that balance and separation of power in New Zealand faces an uncertain future if domestic spying is enabled on an enhanced scale.
“Tracking the movements and messages of journalists inside and outside Parliament threatens to unsettle that balance,” says Gabi.
Activists and other free speech practitioners are others whose contributions may suffer under a climate of enhanced state surveillance.
"Journalists are not 'subversives' as claimed by the defence force in New Zealand, nor should other ordinary citizens be viewed in that way, either."
Co-Chair Monica Miller said that the Pacific Freedom Forum stands for basic human rights under international law, including those relating to the need for privacy, even in free speech.
Says Miller, "The chilling effect of aid is already well noted globally, but falls into the shade of laws enabling surveillance on a huge scale."
Miller says New Zealand must take urgent action as a governance leader to avoid questions about its credibility as a committed development partner.
"We note extensive reference to existing surveillance by New Zealand across Pacific Islands."
"New Zealand would gain much, and lose little, by entering an extended consultation on its spy laws, including the involvement of regional development partners from the islands."
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Papua New Guinea
ABOUT PFF :
The Pacific Freedom Forum are a regional and global online network of Pacific media colleagues, with the specific intent of raising awareness and advocacy of the right of Pacific people to enjoy freedom of expression and be served by a free and independent media. We believe in the critical and basic link between these freedoms, and the vision of democratic and participatory governance pledged by our leaders in their endorsement of the Pacific Plan and other commitments to good governance. In support of the above, our key focus is monitoring threats to media freedom and bringing issues of concern to the attention of the wider regional and international community.
We are registered as an incorporated society in Rarotonga, Cook Islands.
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