7 Nov 2019

Terrorism bill's submissions period too short - Amnesty International

3:25 pm on 7 November 2019

Allowing just five days for public submissions on the Terrorism Suppression Bill is outrageous, Amnesty International says.

Andrew Little at Pike River Mine re-entry delay announcement

Justice Minister Andrew Little. Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

The government's Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill proposes to introduce a regime to manage and monitor people coming into New Zealand after terrorism-related activities overseas.

It faced some initial hurdles, with the Labour-NZ First coalition unable to secure support from the Greens or National to pass it.

After negotiating changes with Justice Minister Andrew Little however, the Green Party threw its support behind the bill.

It had its first reading late last month, and Amnesty International is scrambling to put together a submission before public submissions close on Sunday.

Executive director Meg de Ronde told RNZ's Morning Report that was simply not enough time.

Meg De Ronde, Campaigns Director for Amnesty International New Zealand

Amnesty International executive director Meg de Ronde Photo: Supplied

"There are still potential issues and we don't have proper time to analyse those and to look at the international case studies that we have on this to make sure that we get it right here in New Zealand.

"Four days is not enough time for that to happen.

"Unless we're going to be hunkering down and working all weekend, it's really unfortunate that the government isn't allowing proper process for such concerning legislation."

She said Amnesty International had some concerns about the bill, which threatened to limit human rights.

"Any measures taken by the state to look at countering terrorism have to comply with the state's other obligations for human rights, so things around ... due process, right to fair trial, freedom of movement," she said.

"Things like control orders with special advocates, you know, there have been problems with those in the past. We've definitely got concerns about the lower standard of proof that's required."

"These are issues that need to be properly examined to make sure that liberty isn't being restricted and due process isn't being restricted unduly."

She said the Green Party's move to support the Bill was not enough for fair and proper legislative process.

"It's not good enough for people to say 'oh, well, the government's looked at this', or 'one party's looked at this'.

"I think the public should have confidence that Amnesty International is a non-partisan organisation, so we are here for human rights and the protection of those, not for a party political position.

"Whether or not the Green Party is on board we still want an opportunity - and we believe other civil society organisations must have an opportunity - to interrogate the legislation."

The claim that the bill would likely only affect one or two people was irrelevant, she suggested.

"What the UN global counterterrorism strategy says is that the fundamental basis of the fight against terrorism is the rule of law and the recognition of human rights.

"What's the point of saying that we oppose these terrorism organisations if we're allowing legislation to be problematic? One or two people's justice being impinged is injustice for us all."

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