Counter-terrorism law changes pass second reading
25 October 2007Parliament is a step closer to toughening New Zealand's anti-terrorism law, which has been used as the basis for police raids on political and environmental activists.
Amendments to the Terrorism Suppression Act passed their second reading in Parliament on Wednesday night.
The Terrorism Suppression Amendment Bill creates a new crime of committing a terrorist act, punishable by life imprisonment.
Opponents contend that legitimate protest action may result in people getting life imprisonment if they are found guilty of a new terrorism offence.
The Government argues that legitimate protest is safeguarded because the offence covers action intended to cause death or serious injury, or major economic loss for the purpose of inducing terror.
However, the Green Party says organisers of disruptive protests could be captured because the offence also covers action that compels the Government to do, or not do, something.
The Bill has already been considered by a select committee and has two more stages to go through before it becomes law.
Both Labour and National back the legislation, which will ensure New Zealand can adopt the United Nations list of terrorist entities and transfers the right of the High Court to review such designations every three years to the Prime Minister.