Government brings forward independent review of Intelligence and Security Act

The review comes more than a year earlier than expected

Government brings forward independent review of Intelligence and Security Act

The New Zealand government is putting forward an independent statutory review of the Intelligence and Security Act 2017 more than a year earlier than expected.

The review of the law, which governs the country’s spy agencies, was scheduled to start after September 2022 as a result of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain (mosques) report.

“We will make a technical law change so that it will be able to start after 1 July 2021,” said Andrew Little, lead coordination minister for the government’s response.

The report from the Royal Commission included four specific recommendations to strengthen New Zealand’s intelligence and security legislation. These are:

  • Reviewing all legislation related to the counterterrorism effort
  • Requiring publication of and public submissions on the National Security and Intelligence Priorities and an annual threatscape report
  • Strengthening the role of the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee
  • Adding a reporting requirement for direct access agreements that allow an intelligence and security agency to directly access certain databases

“The independent statutory review will consider current threats to national security and whether the legislation can be improved to ensure it continues to be clear and effective, as well as considering issues with the Act that were raised by the Royal Commission,” Little said.

“Families of the shuhada [martyrs] and the wider public will have the opportunity to express their views on issues related to national security and the matters raised by the Royal Commission about the legislation.”

He added that any changes to the law that result from the review would go through the Select Committee process.

The review will be conducted by two independent reviewers appointed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The Ministry of Justice will also be responsible for supporting the review.

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