Submission on The Terrorism Suppression Amendment Bill (No 2) 2004

From the Anti-Bases Campaign, Christchurch


19 March 2005

Peter Papadopoulos
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee
Parliament Buildings



We include below, for purposes of introduction, modified portions of two paragraphs from our submission to your Committee on the Terrorism Suppression Bill 2002.

The Anti-Bases Campaign and its predecessor (Citizens for the Demilitarisation of Harewood) have a 22-year history of active opposition to American military and intelligence bases in Aotearoa/New Zealand. This domestic opposition has not escaped the notice of the American Embassy in Wellington and thus the American Government in Washington DC. The names and details of our members (active and former) will have been entered into the files of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (SIS), the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the American National Security Agency (NSA). It is likely that our home and business telephones are bugged, and it is a certainty that our international communications via telephone, email, and fax are routinely intercepted by the satellite spy base at Waihopai.

Because of our opposition to significant aspects of the domestic and foreign policies of the New Zealand and American governments we are very likely to have been designated as threats to the established order. We oppose parts of the Amendment Bill (No 2) because they represent extensions of unwarranted government powers to designate people and groups as supporting terrorist activities. We fear further erosion of democratic and due legal process if this amendment bill is passed into law. We fear that those who question or dissent from government policies, especially as they relate to the tragic events of September 11, 2001 in the United States or to subsequent New Zealand government support for U.S. military intervention in the Middle East, could be deprived of civil rights and perhaps even be imprisoned based merely on suspicion and innuendo. The proposed amendment increases our concerns.

Comments on the Amendment Bill (No 2)

  1. We oppose the new section 8(2A). It purports to close a loophole regarding the financing of so-called terrorist organisations or entities. But by closing the “loophole” it will effectively make it all the more difficult for an individual to know whether or not they are committing the crime of contributing to a terrorist organisation. How is one to interpret: “…general financial support to all terrorist organisations, whether designated or not”? (quoted from the Explanatory Note to the Bill). Subsection (2A) states that an “offender” is wilfully supporting a terrorist entity. We submit that an innocent person could easily be entangled unwittingly in the anti-terrorism net due to some indirect and obscure involvement with someone or some group that may or may not be formally designated as involved in a terrorist act. Who decides who knows what, or what is wilful? It may all get sorted out eventually in the courts but at what personal cost to the victim caught in the net? And what would be the benefit to the country?

    In our submission on the principal Act, we objected strongly to the minimal involvement of the judiciary in the terrorist designation process. Decisions on criminal terrorist involvement appear to be heavily political and thus susceptible to the prejudices and biases of politicians. It is a sad commentary on our democracy when laws can be created that give inordinate power to politicians with only a requirement for the Prime Minister to consult with the Attorney General. In our view this designation process bears a chilling resemblance to the draconian “anti-terrorist” measures adopted in the U.S. which have seen hundreds of terrorist suspects imprisoned by military or security forces without charges being laid, without following normal legal procedures and without recourse to legal defence. We accept that the principal Act in New Zealand is not as bad as the U.S. Patriot Act, particularly with regard to access to judicial process. But we submit that the existing provisions of the Crimes Act are more than adequate to deal with crimes of terrorism in New Zealand. Thus the principal Act and this Amendment (No 2) are totally unnecessary.

    According to the Explanatory Note, this Bill is “…necessary to ensure that New Zealand fully complies with international standards for counter terrorist financing, as set out and assessed by the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF)”. To our knowledge there is nothing in those standards that makes this amendment necessary. We call upon committee members in their research and deliberations to look carefully at the FATF standards to judge for themselves whether or not the claim in the Explanatory Note is accurate and justified.

  2. We object to any blanket extension of the designations of terrorist entities beyond the three years specified in the principal Act. The UN-derived list of 318 terrorist organisations remains uncorrected and unaltered since its initial insertion in the Act. We suspect that there are numerous errors of terrorist designation in that list and therefore all designations should be allowed to expire in October 2005. The Prime Minister has the power, under provisions of the principal Act, to make designations of terrorists but has failed to make even one such designation in three years. The entire process of designating terrorist entities in New Zealand appears to be a fruitless exercise in response to pressures from overseas (namely the United States) to pass ill-considered anti-terrorism legislation with little or no relevance to the effective protection of New Zealand and its citizens.

We ask the committee to recommend to Parliament that this Bill not proceed (with the exception of certain technical matters such as reference to the Chief Justice).

We thank the committee for the opportunity to make a submission on this Bill. We appreciate receiving an extension on the deadline for submission.

We do not wish to appear before the committee regarding this submission.

Yours sincerely,

Robert L. Leonard
For the Anti-Bases Campaign
P.O. Box 2258