RESIST APEC 2021: Say NO to a Police State

The government is currently consulting on the APEC 2021 bill. This law is being passed to allow the suspension of your basic rights and instituting extreme security and surveillance measures during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Auckland in November 2021. 

We need you to say NO to APEC 2021 and to make your voice heard. Submissions are due no later than Wednesday, 12 February 2020. You can make a submission here.

What is APEC?

APEC is an annual meeting of the leaders of countries that rim the Pacific ocean. Included in this are the US, Russia, and China. The major aim of APEC is trade liberalisation. In practice, this means prying open economies for corporations to exploit, combined with the loss of workers’ rights, indigenous rights, land rights, environmental protections and democratic accountability.

APEC in New Zealand:

New Zealand is hosting APEC in 2021 around the country with the major event being the ‘leaders’ week’ from 8 to 14 November 2021 in Auckland (at the Sky City Convention Centre that recently caught fire). This means that Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are likely to come to NZ.

What to say in your submission:

  • Tell Parliament that you do not support the bill because of the way it impacts the human rights of ordinary people who live in New Zealand
  • Tell them what you think about any of the specific parts of the bill that you think are really bad/unnecessary (see below)
  • Tell them that you do not support APEC’s agenda which has resulted in corporate exploitation of people and the environment, the erosion of democracy and the consolidation of wealth into the hands of fewer and fewer people. (see the last section)

What the APEC 2021 Bill says:

  1. This law is supreme over any other New Zealand law (Clause 5): this means that laws like the Search and Surveillance Act which limit the police’s powers and confer rights on people in NZ are subservient to the needs of APEC.
  1. The definition of “risk to security” (Clause 6 – Definitions) is so broad that it encapsulates anything the Police say no matter how small the risk, far-fetched, unlikely to happen or unrelated to APEC: 
    1. “the risk of a situation during, and at or near, an APEC event or a leaders’ event that could cause—:   
      1. harm or any injury to human or animal
      2. the destruction of, or damage to… any premises, building… installation, road, or… any vehicle, aircraft, or vessel…”

Police would be authorised to close any place if (including someone’s home) and remove people if they believe that will prevent a risk to security. (Clauses 47 to 51)

  1. The Bill allows the police to authorise defence force personnel and even private security employees to act as police (Clauses 10 and 18).

For example, private security employees could be authorised by police to forcibly remove protesters from streets or other spaces near APEC activities. 

  1. The Bill allows foreign police (such as the US secret service and Philippine Presidential Security Group) to carry weapons they want, including restricted weapons (Clause 30).
    1. This is risky in the case of security/police from foreign countries which do not tolerate dissent or protest. If such staff came into contact with demonstrators etc they may see them as a threat to the leader they are protecting. There is the infamous incident from APEC in Vancouver in 1997 where the Indonesian guards of Suharto asked the Canadian police if they could shoot at Free East Timor protesters.
  1. Any police officer can close a public place, office or even someone’s home anytime during the leader’s week with no authorisation from anyone else either because of a “risk to security” or simply to keep people out. They do not need the permission of the Police Commissioner, owner, tenant, local authority or any other agency. (Section 51). 

For example, a police officer could close the premises of an NGO without any permission if they considered a planned protest action might involve a risk of harm or injury.

  1. Any police officer can close road at any time during the leader’s week with no authorisation. They do not need the permission of the Police Commissioner, local authority or any other agency. (Section 56)

This Bill would allow police to close Auckland’s streets on an ad hoc basis, herding demonstrators far from APEC events or even trapping them between city streets to stop them from moving.

  1. Homeowners, tenants and private business owners can be removed from their property if the police declare it a security area. (Section 61(4)) 

A “security area” is declared whenever police close a place in order to prevent a risk to security (remember, the low level of what constitutes a “risk to security”!)

  1. Your home can be searched if you happen to live on the transport route of the APEC leaders, or within any security area – with no other cause than simply the location of the house. (Section 66(3)(a))
  1. You can also be personally searched without your consent if you happen to live in an area that is a transport route or has been deemed a “security area”.
  1. Within any “security area” or closed off transport route, attempting to enter – or refusing to leave – is a criminal offence akin to trespass or disorderly behaviour.

In order to quell demonstrations, police would be allowed to shut down streets on an ad hoc basis, and then immediately arrest any person who did not leave the space. 

  1. The police can search without warrant anywhere they have declared a secure airspace simply if they suspect there is a kite inside! (a “reasonable suspicion that there is a risk to the security of the airspace” Section 86)
  2. The police or any foreign security agent can use cell phone jammers at almost anytime in a wide area where the person they are protecting is or will be located. (Section 92). This means that if the President of China is travelling to the airport, your phone can be jammed up to and including the full length of his journey.
  3. Immunity from prosecution (Section 111) grants civil and criminal immunity from prosecution to any police officer or other agent acting in good faith and reasonably to exercise their powers. 

For example, if a police officer says, “Stop, criminal” in the vicinity of foreign leaders and a foreign officer pulls a gun and shoots that person, they may be immune from being held to account.

Why resist APEC?

  • APEC’s agenda worsens poverty and climate change 
  • APEC’s agenda enables massive corporate sell-offs of land and resources
  • APEC increases the ease with which transnational corporations can exploit resources and open mining up
  • APEC listens and responds to corporate interests, not to the needs of workers, farmers, and indigenous people
  • APEC costs millions to host: money that could go to our communities in need of housing, health care and social services
  • APEC means welcoming warmongers, mass murderers, human rights abusers and corporate criminals to New Zealand

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