Saturday, 20 Oct 2007

Terror bill to be debated despite anger over raids

By TRACY WATKINS - The Dominion Post | Thursday, 18 October 2007
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Parliament is expected to press ahead with controversial anti-terror laws as outraged activists demand they be pulled after Monday's police raids.

The law changes, which include a new offence of committing a terrorist act, carrying a term of life imprisonment, are due to be debated by MPs today.

There was confusion yesterday after suggestions that the Government had pushed it down the business list in the wake of raids targeting Maori activists and environmental groups.

A spokesman for Leader of the House Michael Cullen said he was not aware of any changes, and it was expected that MPs would debate the Terrorism Suppression Amendment Bill today.

Global Peace and Justice spokesman John Minto said yesterday that the Government should pull the legislation.

"Monday's police action in arresting 17 people on gun charges and raising the spectre of terrorism charges to follow is an attempt to soften the public up to the idea that we have terrorism in New Zealand.

"This creates a climate of fear and makes it easier to pass anti-terrorism laws, which inevitably undermine the civil rights of New Zealanders and our relations with organisations overseas."

Most politicians trod carefully in the wake of the raids, saying they would reserve judgment till the cases were dealt with in court.

But yesterday, Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples was scathing of the police action.

"When it suits this country, it invokes the rulings of the United Nations ... but when it comes to supporting the rights of indigenous people as passed by the UN, then it turns its butt."

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