Release of Annual Report 2014/15

Prime Minister Rt. Hon. John Key has today tabled in Parliament the Annual Report of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn.

Ms Gwyn said she was pleased to release her second annual report, which covers her first full year in office.

The report is unclassified.  "It's important that intelligence and security matters are open to scrutiny.  Consistent with that intention this report sets out my Office's work over the last year in as much detail as possible."

The Inspector-General is independent from the intelligence and security agencies and is not subject to direction by Ministers.

"I am required to independently investigate complaints relating to each of the intelligence and security agencies and I have specific powers to initiate my own inquiries into any matter that relates to the compliance by the NZSIS or the GCSB with the law of New Zealand or into the propriety of particular activities of either agency."

The Inspector-General has the ability to access all premises and documents of the intelligence and security agencies, and to require the appearance of witnesses under oath.

This report covers Ms Gwyn's oversight of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Security Bureau for the period 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015, and is the first Annual Report that covers a full year under the expanded Office of the Inspector-General provided by the amending of legislation in late 2013.

"My office is now in a position to give an informed certification of the extent to which the compliance systems of New Zealand's intelligence and security agencies are "sound", as required by the legislation governing my office."

The Annual Report also details the Inspector-General's reviews of the intelligence and security agencies' interception and intelligence warrants and authorisations, including the first NZSIS warrants for visual surveillance of private activity in private premises, following legislative changes introduced in late 2014.

The report summarises the Office's ongoing and completed inquiries, and the complaints handled in the reporting year.

Ms Gwyn said that the Annual Report will be supplemented by more detailed reports on specific inquiries as these are completed in the coming months.

For the first time the Inspector-General has published her office's work programme which is available on the IGIS website http://www.igis.govt.nz/publications/igis-work-programme-july-2015/(external link).

A formal internal policy for handling protected disclosures, or "whistleblowing", has also been developed by the Inspector-General's office and the office is liaising with the agencies as they develop a revised protected disclosures policy.

"The Edward Snowden disclosures demonstrate how critical it is to have a clear path, with appropriate protections, for disclosing information about suspected wrongdoing within an intelligence and security agency."

The Annual Report notes the legislative review of the intelligence and security agencies, their legislation and the oversight legislation, currently being undertaken by Hon. Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy.

Ms Gwyn expects to be able to provide some assistance to the reviewers because of her Office's particular experience in overseeing the intelligence and security agencies.

"I am particularly interested in whether any proposed policies and legislative changes that may arise place sufficient weight on maintaining the privacy of individuals, and whether proposals reflect the concept of proportionality - that is, that the means used by the intelligence and security agencies for obtaining information must be proportionate to the gravity of the interests at risk.

"It must be convincingly demonstrated that the present powers of the agencies are insufficient before considering whether to extend those powers."

Ms Gwyn is committed to using her office's expanded powers, responsibilities and resources to provide assurance that intelligence and security matters are carefully scrutinised and the public provided with as much information as possible about those matters.

Note: The annual report covers the period 1 July 2014 - 30 June 2015.  Cheryl Gwyn took up her role as Inspector-General on 5 May 2014; at the end of this reporting period she had been in the role 14 months.

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