New Zealand’s High Court has ruled that the country’s authoritarian lockdown was unlawful during the first nine days of its implementation.
Three high court judges admitted that the New Zealand government should have written the order into law before threatening the population with police detention to keep them inside.
“While there is no question that the requirement was a necessary, reasonable and proportionate response to the Covid-19 crisis at the time, the requirement was not prescribed by law and was therefore contrary to section 5 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act,” the ruling read.
Rt.com reports: The panels added that the initial lockdown curtailed “certain rights and freedoms affirmed by the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990” including, but not limited to, “freedom of movement, peaceful assembly and association.”
Attorney General David Parker attempted to downplay the significance of the ruling, saying: “We always thought we were acting legally all of the way through.”
However, despite Parker and Ardern’s attempt to put a brave face on things, the situation may cause issues, as anyone arrested or detained from March 26 to April 3 as a result of the lockdown orders may make a claim.
“Even arrests after April 3 will have been improper,” Auckland University of Technology Professor of Law Kris Gledhill wrote in May.
Meanwhile, New Zealand has delayed its general election, passed a law allowing for warrantless property searches by police, and Prime Minister Ardern has said openly that people will be forced to remain indefinitely in military-guarded “isolation hotels” unless they consent to Covid-19 testing.
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COVID-19 Public Health Response Bill Enforcement
Powers of entry
(1) An enforcement officer may enter, without a warrant, any land, building, craft, vehicle, place, or thing if they have reasonable grounds to believe that a person is failing to comply with any aspect of a section 11 order.
(2) However, subsection (1) does not apply to a private dwelling house or marae.
(3) A constable may enter a private dwelling house or marae without warrant only if they have reasonable grounds to believe that people have gathered there in contravention of a section 11 order and entry is necessary for the purpose of giving a direction under section 21.
(4) A constable exercising a power of entry under this section may use reasonable force in order to effect entry into or onto the land, building, craft, vehicle, place, or thing if, following a request, a person present refuses entry or does not allow entry within a reasonable time.
(5) Any constable who exercises a warrantless entry power under this section must provide a written report on the exercise of that power to the Commissioner or a Police employee designated to receive reports of that kind by the Commissioner, as soon as practicable after exercising the power.
(6) Any enforcement officer (other than a constable) who exercises a warrantless entry power under this section must provide a written report on the exercise of that power to the Director-General, or an employee designated to receive reports of that kind by the Director-General, as soon as practicable after exercising the power.
(7) A report referred to in subsection (5) or (6) must contain—