20 May 2024

Thousands sign petition to make stalking illegal

10:30 am on 20 May 2024
Farzana Yaqubi.

Farzana Yaqubi was murdered by a stalker she had previously reported to police in 2022. Photo: Facebook

Thousands of people are calling for the government to make stalking illegal under the Crimes Act.

An open letter to Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith was published on Monday, supported by a petition signed by more than 7000 people and organisations.

The proposal has gained steam since 2022, when Auckland woman Farzana Yaqubi was murdered by a stalker she had previously reported to police.

Petition organiser Danni Wilkinson says stalking victims currently have minimal legal pathways or support.

She says National said it would seriously look at making stalking illegal in 2023, but is yet to act.

"We're asking [Goldsmith] to honour National's public pre-election support for stalking criminalisation, and to urgently make stalking illegal as it already is overseas."

Signatories included the NZ Prostitutes Collective, E Tū Union, victims' advocate Ruth Money, comedian Michelle A'Court and law academic Khylee Quince and several Auckland councillors.

National MP Paul Goldsmith at caucus run

Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

In response, Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith committed to reviewing harassment laws within the coalition's first term .

Goldsmith said the government would review New Zealand's stalking laws before the next election, but right now he was focused on legislation giving police new tools to crack down on violent offenders and gangs.

"We'll review New Zealand's stalking and harassment laws during our first term in government, however right now I am focused on restoring law and order and the legislation that will give police new tools to crack down on violent offenders, and criminal gangs."

Leonie Morris, chair of the Coalition for the Safety of Women and Children and one of the petition's organisers, called that a "let-down".

"It is disrespectful to victims for politicians to say they support something but never commit to doing it."

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