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Selwyn case shows need for review of sedition law

9 June 2006

Selwyn case shows need for review of sedition laws

A review of New Zealand's sedition laws is urgently needed in the wake of Timothy Selwyn case, the Green Party says.

Auckland man Tim Selwyn was yesterday found guilty in the Auckland District Court of a charge of publishing a statement with seditious intent.

"We seem to be going back to the dark old days when sedition was used to suppress political dissent," Keith Locke, the party's Human Rights Spokesperson says.

"The police are taking us down a very dangerous road in prosecuting a person for making a generalized call for civil disobedience.

"New Zealand has an honourable tradition of civil disobedience against injustice, most notably during the Springbok tour of 1981. Thankfully the sedition laws weren't used at that time, but the police now seemed prepared to prosecute anyone advocating such resistance.

"Next thing we might see farmers facing charges for encouraging others not to get their dogs micro-chipped.

"There is a big difference between inciting the immediate commission a specific criminal act, already covered by Sections 66 and 311 of the Crimes Act, and generalized calls for civil disobedience, which the sedition laws target.

"The sedition offences are so draconian that many news outlets could have been caught under Section 83, for publishing 'any statement that expresses a seditious intention', namely Tim Selwyn's call for 'like-minded New Zealanders to take similar action' to his 'symbolic' protest.

"The sedition law should be urgently reviewed. Some of the sedition offences are clearly contrary to other New Zealand legislation. For example, the under Crimes Act, Section 81, we are not allowed to 'excite disaffection against Her Majesty or the Government of New Zealand", yet the more recent Bill of Rights provision protects our right to protest and 'impart information and opinions in any kind of form.'.

"The Greens will be pushing both for a government review of the sedition clauses, and for the Justice and Electoral Select Committee to take up the matter."


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