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Alert! New Terrorism Suppression Legislation
2 April 2003
Unfortunately the introduction of more terrorism suppression legislation to parliament yesterday was not an April Fool’s joke. When commenting on what became the Terrorism Suppression Act, we said at the time: "this Bill marks the single greatest legislative erosion of human rights and the due process of law in this country since those Acts passed in the late 1800s which took away the right to trial - in particular the Mäori Prisoners Trials Act of 1879 and the Mäori Prisoners Act of 1880." PMA, 22 March 2002.
As if the passing of that legislation in 2002 wasn’t bad enough, now comes the Counter Terrorism Bill.
Below is a copy of Phil Goff’s media release on the Bill. It includes statements such as: "It will also be an offence to contaminate food, crops, water or other products intended for human consumption". Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to apply to the release of such things as genetically modified organisms into the environment, as it is qualified by ... "with the intention of causing serious risk to an animal population or major damage to the national economy." Presumably the lifting of the GE moratorium in October this year, although it may cause serious risk to the animal and indeed human population, will be seen by the government as being done with the best of intentions ...
The issue of intention is also raised by the following statement: "Terrorism becomes an aggravating factor under the Sentencing Act 2002, and therefore carries harsher penalties. For example, a murder carried out as a terrorist act carries a minimum non-parole period of 17 years," Mr Goff said. " It is not clear why a murder committed as a ‘terrorist act’ should be perceived as any worse for the victim and their loved ones than any other murder.
The most fascinating, and alarming, aspect of ‘terrorism suppression’ legislation is its oddly one-sided and political nature. You may recall that Prime Minister Helen Clark was awarded a DICKNZ Special 'Guided missiles and misguided men' Award in 2001 "for her support for the US led war against the people of Afghanistan which includes acts defined by the proposed anti-terrorism legislation namely: - the death of, or serious harm to, one or more persons in any country; - major environmental damage in any country (with reference to the damage caused by use of DU ammunition, cluster bombs, daisy cutters, carpet bombing, and other bombing and missile strikes); - serious interference with, or disruption to, an infrastructure facility in any country (with particular reference to the bombing of Red Cross facilities and hospitals); - serious damage to, or destruction of, the national economy of any country. These acts are clearly terrorist as they have been carried out, as defined in the proposed legislation, "for the purpose of advancing an ideological or political cause"." DICKNZ Special Awards 2001.
If ‘terrorism suppression’ legislation was actually applied to everyone equally, then most people would support it - but the fact is that it is not, and this new Bill should therefore be opposed with the same determination as the last one.
We are still waiting for confirmation of the closing date for submissions on the new Bill, and will circulate that information as soon as it is available. In the meantime, if you want more information about the Terrorism Suppression Act, check out the articles, statements and submissions on it on the NZ Terrorism Suppression Legislation index page.
Information on how to make a submission to a Select Committee is available here.
Media release, Phil Goff, 1 April 2003
Counter Terrorism Bill creates new powers, offences
New terrorism-related offences will be created, and Police and Customs officers will have new powers to assist investigations under the Counter Terrorism Bill introduced by Justice Minister Phil Goff today.
"This Bill reflects the need for New Zealand to ensure we have a comprehensive legislative framework in place that reflects the new, more dangerous era of international terrorism that we live in," Mr Goff said.
"It creates new offences which close potential gaps that could be exploited by terrorists, and gives necessary powers to Police and Customs to investigate and prosecute those offences.
"The Bill complements the Terrorism Suppression Act which came into force on last October, and enables New Zealand to ratify the final two of 12 UN conventions on terrorism.
"New offences under the bill include improper use or possession of nuclear material; threatening to use such material; importing, acquiring or possessing radioactive material with the intention of causing injury, and knowingly possessing, using, making, exporting or importing unmarked plastic explosives.
"It will also be an offence to contaminate food, crops, water or other products intended for human consumption, or to infect animals with disease with the intention of causing serious risk to an animal population or major damage to the national economy.
"Other offences include harbouring or concealing a person that intends to carry out a terrorist act or has already done so; threatening harm to persons or property, and falsely communicating information about danger to persons or property with the intent of disrupting commercial or government interests.
"The new offences carry maximum penalties ranging from seven years' jail to 10 years' jail and a $500,000 fine (for the nuclear and plastic explosives offences).
"Terrorism becomes an aggravating factor under the Sentencing Act 2002, and therefore carries harsher penalties. For example, a murder carried out as a terrorist act carries a minimum non-parole period of 17 years," Mr Goff said.
The Bill will enable Police and Customs officers to use electronic tracking devices as an investigative tool. It will require a court warrant which will be issued if the judge is satisfied there are reasonable grounds to suspect an offence is being, or will be, committed, and that it is in the public interest to issue a warrant.
"During the execution of a search warrant, Police will have the power to require assistance from a person where necessary, such as providing passwords to access computers. Failure to assist will be an offence if the assistance is both reasonable and necessary.
"The Bill expands on the Terrorism Suppression Act by allowing Customs to detain property, cash or cash equivalents crossing New Zealand's border if there is good cause to suspect that the owner is a designated terrorist entity, or an entity that may be eligible for designation," Mr Goff said.
[The Bill will be referred to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee to hear submissions. The committee is expected to report back by July 31. ]