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NZ government assets to be frozen?
30 October 2001
Those two quotes describe precisely what the US government and its current allies (including the NZ government) are doing in Afghanistan right at this point in time - killing innocent bystanders, who have nothing to do with a conflict. Does this mean then that the assets of the NZ (and other warmongering) governments will be frozen?
Probably not, it's only some 'terrorists' whose assets will be affected as it seems that it will be the Minister of Justice who will make the decision about who is or isn't a terrorist. Only the killing of some types of innocent bystanders will apparently be regarded as 'terrorist'. And if any suspect whose assets have been frozen wishes to make a complaint about it - they will be able to appeal to .... the Minister of Justice and/or the Inspector General of the Intelligence and Security! How very reassuring - politicians and/or their political appointees as judge and jury.
Whatever happened to the notion of an independent judicial system? Apparently, according to Phil Goff, evidence that a suspect may be a terrorist is far too sensitive for it to be heard in a court!
Not only that, but the new anti-terrorist legislation being rushed through the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee is itself too sensitive for the likes of you and me to be allowed to see it or comment on it. Apparently certain selected groups will be given about a week to put in their comments - no indication yet of who those groups might be. Very likely that information is far too sensitive for us to know who they are ...
We enclose below an urgent action alert from Arena on this proposed legislation. If you're planning on writing to Phil Goff with your thoughts about the anti-terrorist bill and the mad rush to get it passed through parliament, why don't you also ask him whatever happened to the legislation to improve the accountability of the Police Complaints Authority. The report of the review into the PCA was due a year ago tomorrow, and was eventually presented by Justice Gallen to Phil Goff last December. Yet the government has made no progress towards implementing Justice Gallen's recommendations nor establishing an Independent PCA. [*1]
Isn't it strange how legislation which might give better protection to people harmed by government agencies proceeds so very slowly, yet legislation designed to give government agencies further powers to erode human rights gets pushed through just as fast as possible?
You can contact Phil Goff, Minister of Justice, office - tel 471 9370, fax 495 8444, or write to him at Parliament Buildings, Wellington (no stamp needed).
Please note: at the end of this alert there are contact details for David Sanders, Clerk of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee and Graham Kelly, Chair of the Committee. Please contact them before 5pm tomorrow, Wednesday, 31 October 2001.
Urgent Action Alert
30 October 2001
Government pushes secret draconian terrorism bill amendments
Last night's television and this morning's newspapers and radio highlighted the plans of the Government to introduce amendments to the Terrorism (Bombing and Financing) Bill. The Bill is likely to go back to Parliament in early November.
The status of the bill is shrouded in secrecy but it appears:
- the bill was introduced in April this year ostensibly to give effect to the international UN convention on Bombing and Financing of Terrorism conventions;
- it appears no one put in any submission on the Bill, it was not widely advertised or discussed in the media and not many civil liberties organisations took notice of it. [If there are people out there who have made submissions please let us know and send us a copy if possible];
- now, post 11 September, it is reported that the Government has introduced amendments to the original bill that will include new and more severe / drastic clauses. However Foreign Minister Phil Goff says that these amendments will not be made public and only a handful of key organisations will be invited to make submissions on them;
- Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee member Keith Locke MP has described the amendments as draconian.
Why it is important to have an informed debate on the issue:
- post-11 September, many governments are introducing similar legislation. Ostensibly to fight international terrorism, these laws target domestic dissent and challenges to the pernicious economic policies with devastating social consequences for people everywhere;
- Phil Goff says that the legislation uses similar wording to British, Canadian, US and Australian legislation. Yet human and democratic rights groups in these countries are protesting at their legislation;
- years of work by democratic rights and civil liberties activists everywhere risk being thrown overboard.
In relation to the NZ Bill and the amendments:
- it follows the political tradition that both National and Labour have created of ramming through important legislation without debate;
- it follows the political trend of introducing far reaching changes of constitutional nature in dribs and drabs, so that whereas each piece of legislation appears to focus on a single issue, together it constitutes major shift in democratic rights and civil liberties of people;
- the present bill needs to be read with the two amendments to the SIS bill that went through in 1996 and 1997. In NZ at least, national security is no longer one that deals with political actions or actions against the State; those amendments have redefined national security to include issues that allegedly threaten the economic well being of NZ and we may recall the house-breaking saga at the home of Aziz Choudhry in Christchurch;
- many New Zealander's are asking the question now more than at any other time, whether they want the nation's destiny to remain one of colonial subordination to the imperial powers, first Britain first and now the United States - that is what this Bill will do if not challenged;
- the Bill purports to deal with international terrorism but the trial and sentencing will be by domestic courts and at the prosecution left to the government of the day;
- if NZ's recent stand on international issues is any yardstick, it means the law will be used to aid and assist the US and its allies;
- the Bill comes at a time when the UN has become ineffective, the US refuses to subject itself to the International Court of Justice or the International Criminal Court. In this context, Bill goes a step further in sidestepping the need strong international organisations and dealing with major international issues bilaterally where decisions could be based on political expediency;
- the next time people want to go off to protest globalisation in Seattle, Melbourne or wherever - the bill could expose them to charges overseas and at home;
- the Bill introduces some complex amendments to a number of statutes from the Crimes Act, Immigration Act and many others. It is not possible to even analyse the bill if the contents of the bill are not debated and the amendments publicised.
As stated earlier, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Phil Goff has said that only a select group of about 6 key organisations will be allowed to see the amendments and make a submission on them to the Select Committee. He therefore intends to deny this democratic process all other groups and individuals who have an interest in this matter. As these 6 "key" organisations will be bound by parliamentary privilege they will not be able to tell others about the amendments.
This is outrageous. We are being told that we have to lose our democratic rights in order to combat a terrorism that we are not even allowed to know the definition of.
As Foreign Minister, Phil Goff does not have power over the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee. It is up to that Select Committee to decide what submissions that it will call and hear. The Select Committee will be making that decision on Thursday 1 November 2001.
It is important that as many groups and individuals as possible write to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee seeking to make submissions on the amendments to the Terrorism (Bombing and Finance) Bill and seeking adequate time to make such submissions.
To have the greatest effect this must be done before 5pm on Wednesday 31 October 2001. To do this please immediately e-mail David Sanders, Secretary of the FADT Select Committee firstname.lastname@example.org and send a copy to Graham Kelly, Chair of the Select Committee graham.kelly@parli ament.govt.nz
Also e-mail MP Keith Locke. Congratulate him on his stand on this Bill and seek further information from him as to what the Select Committee is up to. keith.locke@parliamen t.co.nz
Please keep the pressure on the Select Committee to open consideration of the Bill and amendments to public scrutiny. We would welcome ideas for further actions that can be taken to ensure this Bill does not proceed. Please contact us at the address below.
This Action Alert has been brought to you by ARENA (Action, Research & Education Network of Aotearoa). PO Box 2450 Christchurch, tel: (03) 381 2951, fax: (03) 348 4763 email@example.com web:www.arena.org.nz