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Constructive Changes To Terrorism Bill

Protecting the community from terrorism while safeguarding the right to dissent.

The Alliance made a significant and constructive contribution to the hearings on the proposed 'Suppression of Terrorism' Bill today.

Alliance Member of Parliament, Kevin Campbell presented the Alliance submission on the proposed 'Suppression of Terrorism' Bill in Christchurch this morning at the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee hearings on the Bill.

"The Alliance was adamant that there should be a public submission process on this bill and we have made our own constructive contribution today.

"Many groups in the community have been seriously concerned about implications of this Bill for their ability to express dissent. The Alliance has addressed those concerns, suggesting significant changes to the bill, while maintaining the state's ability to suppress terrorism within its borders.

"We are pleased the select committee process is available to highlight areas of public concern and we are confident the Select Committee have been taking heed of people's concerns.

"The Alliance supports all work which contributes to the suppression of terrorism, including the preparation of legislation on terrorism to give effect to our obligations under international law. However, we believe the current bill needs significant amendment to become effective while respecting human rights and we are contributing to this work at all levels," said Kevin Campbell MP.

Key points of the Alliance submission:

1. The definition of a terrorist act must involve 'provoking a state of terror' - wording used in the UN International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and the European Union's definition of terrorism.

This means that protest action, which is not legal, can not be automatically misconstrued as a terrorist act.

2. Interference with infrastructure or the economy, without provoking a state of terror, should be dealt with under current legislation and not be part of this Bill.

There are very serious sentences available under the Crimes Act 1961 (among others) to cover such interference, where it is not necessarily an act of terrorism. In the event that the act was to 'provoke a state of terror' it could then be considered under the 'Suppression of Terrorism' Bill.

3. People should only be prosecuted for financing terrorism if they have actively and deliberately funded a terrorist group or activity.

Currently the Bill has clauses on 'reckless' funding which is not clearly an attempt to fund a terrorist act. The Alliance believes this situation should not be included in this legislation.

4. The current system of 'designation' should be replaced with a court process.

It is essential that rights of review and appeal be maintained. Instead of instituting a whole new system of prosecution, we believe the processes of law should apply equally to everyone. This means people involved in providing evidence, eg the Inspector General of the SIS, will not be involved in review or prosecution.

5. New Zealand should maintain our sovereign right to challenge evidence given to the Prime Minister by the United Nations.

Currently the Bill would force the Prime Minister to automatically accept evidence from the UN. It would of course be very rare that we would disagree, but the right to disagree should be maintained.


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