The Office of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has released its annual report for 2018-19.
The Inspector-General (IGIS) provides independent oversight of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) and the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).
“It has been another busy and productive year for the office,” says the Acting IGIS, Madeleine Laracy.
“We completed a major inquiry into whether the New Zealand agencies knew about, or were otherwise connected with, the CIA detention and interrogation programme that ran from 2001-2009. We made substantial progress in another major inquiry into the agencies’ role, if any, in relation to specific events in Afghanistan in 2009-2013.
“We also completed a review of a sample of NZSIS security clearance decisions; a review of NZSIS operational relationships with other agencies at the New Zealand border; and a report on the first warrants issued under the Intelligence and Security Act 2017. We reviewed 61 warrants issued to the agencies.”
“We have engaged closely with the agencies over the year on the requirements of the new legislation covering warrants, which empower the agencies to carry out covert activities including surveillance, interception, search and seizure.
“Effective oversight should have an impact and the crafting of warrants is one area where we have seen this happening,” says Ms Laracy. “Both agencies have improved their warrant applications in response to issues we have raised.”
The Office deals with public complaints against the agencies. It received 26 complaints during the reporting year, some of which required substantial inquiries.
In the Annual Report the Acting IGIS certifies that, overall, the NZSIS and GCSB have sound compliance procedures and systems in place.
Ms Laracy also pays tribute to Cheryl Gwyn, whose tenure as Inspector-General ended during 2018-19 when she became a High Court judge.
“In nearly six years as Inspector-General Cheryl transformed intelligence oversight in New Zealand. She was internationally recognised as setting formidable standards for independence, rigour and transparency.”
The process of appointing a new Inspector-General is under way.
The annual report is available at www.igis.govt.nz/publications/annual-reports
Media contact: Antony Byers 027 5438 735