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Terrorism (Bombings And Financing) Bill Speech

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Speech Notes

3 May 2001


The purpose of this Bill is to strengthen New Zealand's ability to deter and react decisively to terrorism.

It contains the provisions that are needed in New Zealand law to implement both the 1997 International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and the 1999 International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.

Over the last three decades an international legal framework has evolved to combat particular terrorist acts.

The framework starts from the premise that it is in the interests of all countries to eliminate terrorism.

If terrorist acts occur the perpetrators should be apprehended and brought to justice quickly: there should be no impunity.

Terrorist acts are increasing. According to the US National Commission on Terrorism, there were 423 international terrorist attacks in 2000, an increase of 8 percent from the 392 attacks recorded during 1999.

Terrorism knows no boundaries, shows no concern as to who might be killed or maimed.

The bombing Pan Am flight 103 in 1988 killed 259 passengers and crew as well as 11 residents of Lockerbie, Scotland.

The World Trade Center bombing in New York killed six and wounded about 1,000, but the terrorists' goal was to topple the twin towers, killing tens of thousands of people.

The attacks against the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam and the bombs that destroyed the military barracks in Saudi Arabia inflicted 6,059 casualties. Then there is the Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland and the appalling attack on innocent tourists in Luxor, Egypt in 1997. The list goes on.

Nor have New Zealanders been immune from terrorist attacks. In recent times, New Zealanders have been killed or taken hostage by terrorist groups in Chechnya, Uganda, Equador and Turkey.

To combat terrorism international co-operation is needed. The identification, monitoring and reporting of suspect financial operations is essential. So too is the possibility to seize or confiscate assets. That will eliminate their ability to operate. But dismantling this capability is impossible without countries working closely together.

Terrorism and crime are now global phenomena and require international co-operation in response.

This Bill builds international co-operation that is essential to safeguard people from all countries, including New Zealand, from international terrorism.

The Bombings Convention is a response to growing international concern at the use of explosives or other lethal devices in particular to attack public or government facilities.

The primary obligation in the Convention is for States to have an offence of “terrorist bombing” in their domestic law.

That offence appears in clause 8 of the bill.

It applies to bombings that take place in government buildings and public places, or that target infrastructure or public transportation, and which are intended to cause death or injury or extensive destruction and economic loss.

In recognition of the seriousness of the offence, it will carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

The bill also gives the New Zealand courts extraterritorial jurisdiction over the offence if there is some New Zealand link, for example, the perpetrator or a victim is a New Zealander.

The safeguard in this context is the requirement for the Attorney-General to consent to any prosecution.

There are also obligations directed at improving international cooperation in criminal investigations and proceedings to ensure that the perpetrators of terrorist acts can in fact be brought to justice.

If an alleged terrorist is found in the territory of a State party it has an obligation either to extradite or to prosecute.

Which option is appropriate will depend on the particular case, but both have the underlying objective of eliminating safe havens for terrorists.

In recent years there has been a growing realisation that new strategies are needed to deal with terrorism.

Restricting access to money can be a significant potential deterrent because the number and seriousness of terrorist acts often depend on the resources available.

The Financing Convention therefore requires a State to have an offence in its domestic law that proscribes the financing of the terrorist acts described in specified terrorism conventions to which the State is a party.

This financing may be direct or indirect, both through organisations that have legitimate goals and through organised criminal groups.
Clause 9 of the bill creates this new offence which will carry a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.

The Financing Convention has similar provisions to those in the Bombings Convention relating to extraterritorial jurisdiction, extradition and mutual assistance in criminal matters, which are also reflected in the bill.

However, the Financing Convention also requires States to consider adopting regulatory measures to prevent and counteract movements of funds suspected to be used in, or intended for, terrorist activities.

New Zealand law already complies with these obligations because of initiatives taken in recent years to combat money-laundering, in particular, the enactment of the Financial Transactions Reporting Act 1996, which requires the reporting of suspicious transactions.

This bill represents the third and final stage of the domestic processes that have to be completed before New Zealand can become party to the Bombings and Financing Conventions.

The Bombings Convention now has 22 ratifications and will come into force later this month.

New Zealand has long condemned terrorism in all its forms.

By advancing this bill, New Zealand not only shows its continued commitment to the fight against terrorism but also ensures that terrorists will not find a safe haven in this country.

I intend to move that the Terrorism (Bombings and Financing) Bill be referred to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee.

I commend this bill to the House.


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