The government is seeking to rush through new terrorism legislation – they have given just FOUR days for the public to make submissions. This rushed process is a serious violation of democratic process, and the law is unnecessary.
MAKE A SUBMISSION
We are encouraging people to make a brief submission to Parliament opposing the Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill for the following reasons
Here are some points you can make in your submission:
- The government is rushing through legislation, curtailing public input into legislation that severely restricts human rights including right to freedom of movement and fair trial rights.
- The government says control orders are necessary because the existing Terrrosim Suppression Act (TSA) may be unable to secure a prosecution. The government was told 11 years ago that the TSA needed significant changes. Thus far, neither a Labour nor National-party led government has sought to address this. Now it is rushing through legislation to fix a hole that they haven’t bothered about for more than a decade.
- If a relevant person is engaged in criminal activity or poses a risk to New Zealanders then existing criminal law (for threats or acts of violence) is sufficient to prosecute them. Imposing preventative punishment on someone (such as a curfew) based on what they might do runs contrary to our justice system.
- The Terrorism Suppression Act already states that any person who joins a designated terrorist organisation is liable on conviction to imprisonment for up to 14 years. Such a person need not have committed any terrorism offences – they need only to “enhance the ability of” a terrorist organisation to carry out terrorism.
- The government is allowing the use of secret evidence, and although it says it will assign a lawyer to look at that evidence, it still means a person may have no way of knowing what the claims against them actually are or who is making them.
- The basis of terrorism designations is not neutral or objective: designations are political by their very nature – one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter so to speak. Would Nelson Mandela have been subject to a control order in his time? In some cases, New Zealand’s designations are based on politically-biased source material.
- It isn’t clear how much “risk” a person must pose in order to be subject to a control order.
Clause-by-clause commentary (please note this is a work-in-progress)
Part 1, clause 3(a) – Purpose of the Act
To protect the public from terrorism.
The public should be protected from anyone engaging in threats or violent acts irrespective of whether they have a political intention or not. Existing surveillance laws & policing powers should be sufficient to allow police to monitor & prosecute these people
Part 1, clause 4 (2)
Diagram of decision-making is a guide only, suggesting that judges may have significant leeway or flexibility in making decisions. This could lead to inconsistent and arbitrary decisions.
Part 1, clause 6
Meaning of relevant person
This law only applies to people who are returning or coming to New Zealand. White supremacists who openly incite violence against Muslims from within New Zealand will not be liable for a control order against them.
Meaning of engagement in terrorism-related activities
We have been assured by amendments secured by the Green Party that any foreign convictions and deportations won’t be accepted without proper scrutiny. However, the government’s designated terrorist entities – those organisations already deemed terrorist organisations and thus assigning that label to anyone associated with them – is not subject to appropriate scrutiny. As an example, the Philippines New People’s Army/Communist Party of the Philippines is a designated terrorist entity in New Zealand. Yet, as lawyer Cam Walker argues, their actions would better be understood as an insurgency. The power to define is given to the Philippines government: a government that is strongly allied to the US government and itself responsible for grave human rights abuses. Amnesty International notes that, “increase of arbitrary arrests, detention and killings by security forces and unknown armed persons of individuals aligned with the political left,” under President Duterte. Moreover, the sources used in some designations, while described as “open and unbiased” are deeply US-centric embodying the US perspectives and foreign policy priorities. In particular, the Council on Foreign Relations, cited as an ‘unbiased source’ for NZ designations, is an organisation only open to U.S. citizens (native born or naturalised) with a reputation for being neo-conservative.
While the provision spells out that there is the need for actual and constructive knowledge of terrorism related activities in some generalised sense, it then goes on to say that you need not know anything actual or constructive about such activities to be subject to an order. This is very fuzzy indeed.
Clause 11 (2)(a) The court may make a control order only if satisfied that—the relevant person poses a risk of engaging in terrorism-related activities.
What is the level of risk that the person must pose. Is it any risk whatsoever? How is this risk determined?
Clause 14(3) & 15(3)
Control orders allow the use of secret evidence “the documents to be served must exclude any information supporting the application that is not disclosable supporting information.” Despite the Green Party securing an advocate with access to this information, it is not clear that this allows a person sufficient ability to challenge such an order. This sort of secret justice is not acceptable – people must know the case against them: to be able to interrogate and cross-examine it.
Clause 24 Duration
While the clause is written that a control order cannot be longer than 2 years, it is likely that all control orders would default to two years, with the onus to challenge them falling on the relevant person
Clause 30 Standard of Proof
The standard of proof: “on the balance of probabilities” is too low when determining if a person should lose their liberties and be subject to a control order. A higher standard of “Clear and convincing evidence” would provide for a significantly more robust regime.