Why we shouldn't rush the terror law

The NZ government will soon make a decision about whether the country will join the American-led fight against extremist group Islamic State (IS).  [1]

Australia have already joined the fight deploying 200 special force troops on the ground [2] and PM John Key has said: "New Zealand... has a large range of options when it came to dealing with ISIS, from humanitarian support to diplomacy and military options”. [3]

As part of the immediate response,to IS, the government have launched a four-week review,  of the Terrorism Suppression Act, which is likely to recommend law changes that will restrict travel, create new criminal offences and beef-up surveillance powers. [4]

ActionStation members care about making the world a more peaceful place. But what does that mean we should do in this particular case?

Last week, we surveyed our entire membership to find out what they thought we should do and these are the results:

  • 80% of the surveyed AS members wanted us to take action.

  • 41% said, “Yes, and the focus should be on the possible implementation of changes to our security laws.‎”

  • 29% said, “Yes, and the focus should be on NZ's involvement in the US-led coalition of attacks against ISIS.”

The answer was overwhelmingly yes, and the focus should be on security.

So what is the situation we have now?

PM Key says he wants to pass the security law reforms under urgency before Christmas, but is hoping for cross-party support. [5]

The Greens “...believe there must be a feedback process that allows the public and concerned organisations to have a say,". "At the very least, the government must consult with the Human Rights Commission, the Law Commission and the Islamic community in New Zealand." (Co-Leader Metiria Turei) [6] While Senior Labour MPs are urging the National government to put the brakes on new terror law changes[7]

The coalition of the concerned does not end there.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance is warning New Zealand against copying Australian anti-terrorism laws which give sweeping powers to government agencies [8] and Dr Najibullah Lafraie of Otago University, an expert in Islamic militancy has said introducing emergency laws to prevent people joining terrorist groups are not productive, involvement could encourage extremism and questions the curious timing of these law reforms. [9]

There are even questions being asked from both sides of the political spectrum with David Farrar of Kiwiblog joining the conversation to say “While there might be a case for a shortened period from the normal nine months or so to pass a law, any bill should at a minimum go to select committee for public submissions… Urgency could arguably be warranted for certain stages of the bill, but it should not be used to bypass a select committee altogether.” [10]

While Terri Carlson, Intern at Amnesty International & guest writer for The Daily Blog agrees, stating: “There is no doubt that countries must have systems in place for dealing with this issue. But as Western governments struggle to find effective ways to deter citizens from joining the conflict in Syria and Iraq,there is also no questioning the fact that human rights must be in the forefront of any decisions made. New Zealand should not be rushing through these security and anti-terror changes under urgency, time must be taken to consider, consult and ensure proper process is followed.” [11]

In summary, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is mounting concern coming in from all sides about passing legislation under urgency without following due process.

At ActionStation we believe it is our role to connect the concerned and make those concerns visible and audible by aggregating and activating the voices of many through one shared platform with one firm ask. We listen to experts, we listen to our members and we stand for citizens having input into the decisions that affect our lives.

As such, we are calling on Prime Minister Key to stop any anti-terror or security laws being pushed through under urgency and ask that they ensure proper process is followed and we’re asking you to join us in that call.

There is power in numbers.

Yours in service,

Laura


References:

[1] http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/256335/key-signals-is-decision-next-month

[2] http://www.ibtimes.com/australian-ground-troops-join-fight-against-isis-after-agreement-reached-iraq-1708069

[3] http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11341133

[4] http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/256735/cabinet-to-look-at-terror-laws-today

[5] http://www.3news.co.nz/nznews/govt-launches-review-into-foreign-fighter-laws-2014101316

[6] http://home.nzcity.co.nz/news/article.aspx?id=195337

[7] http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/10614983/Labour-unconvinced-on-terror-law-changes

[8] http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/256865/nz-warned-against-copying-aust-law

[9] http://tvnz.co.nz/breakfast-news/kiwis-aren-t-attracted-isis-expert-video-6104878

[10] http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2014/10/dont_rush_the_law.html

[11] http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2014/10/16/amnesty-international-friend-request-from-an-is-militant/#sthash.rDV6WKfJ.dpuf


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