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Gaping hole in defence against terrorism?

Murray McCully MP
National Party Foreign Affairs Spokesman

14 June 2006

Gaping hole in defence against terrorism?

New Zealanders should be seriously concerned about the state of the nation’s counter-terrorism preparedness says National Party Foreign Affairs and Defence spokesman Murray McCully.

He says statements made on Radio New Zealand by Assistant Police Commissioner John White, claiming that terrorists designated by the Australian and Canadian governments would also have been designated in New Zealand, are “completely wrong”.

“Mr White, the Police head of counter-terrorism, clearly has no understanding of the efforts of the Australian and Canadian governments to supplement the UN Security Council list of terrorists with their own. That is deeply worrying and raises serious questions about other aspects of our counter-terrorism activities. If he doesn’t understand that Australia, with whom we share a close border, has designated 88 terrorists that have not also been designated by New Zealand under our respective Terrorism Suppression Acts, then we have a serious problem.

“The answers provided in Parliament today by the Police Minister are also wrong and demonstrate a lack of understanding of the issue on her part. It is unfortunate that the Minister responsible for the Security Intelligence Service, Helen Clark, is ducking the issue by transferring questions to her Minister.

“I am now concerned that there is potentially a gaping hole in our defence against terrorism. It is bad enough that the Australian and Canadian governments have designated substantial numbers of terrorists under their terrorism suppression legislation, in addition to those required by the UN Security Council, and New Zealand has not. It is even worse that both our Minister and our Assistant Police Commissioner responsible for counter-terrorism do not understand that this is the case.

“Opposition MPs attempt to behave with restraint on matters involving national security, acknowledging that there are some things we are not allowed to know. The fact that the Prime Minister will not front on this issue in Parliament, and that the Minister and Assistant Commissioner do not seem to understand the essential facts, leave us little option but to take this matter further.

“In order to prove my point, I attempted to table a consolidated Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade list of Australian terrorists in Parliament today, but was denied leave by the Government. I am happy to make that list available to the media, and to supply a DFAT note explaining the breakdown of the figures (attached),” says Mr McCully.

--

Dear Mr McCully (See attached file: 051004 Criminal Code list vs Consolidated List.doc)

As promised, please find attached a document which outlines the workings of Australia's terrorist asset freezing regime - namely, the consolidated list - which is managed by DFAT. Entities and individuals on the UN 1267 list (only associated with AL Qaida or the Taliban) are automatically listed on the consolidated list. Mr Downer can also list other entities and individuals - ie in order to pick up those not associated with Al Qaida and the Taliban, such as Hizballah. The UN has no list for terrorist organisations which are not associated with Al Qaida and the Taliban.

In addition to the consolidated list, Australia maintains a criminal code list of terrorist organisations only - listed by the Attorney-General. Further details of this can be found at www.nationalsecurity.gov.au.

Kind regards

Paul Irons
Public Affairs Manager
Australian High Commission

-

Relationship between the Criminal Code List and the DFAT Consolidated List under the UN Charter Act

 The proscription of terrorist organisations by the Attorney-General under the Criminal Code is distinct from the listing of terrorists and terrorist organisations under the Charter of the United Nations Act 1945 and associated regulations

 the Criminal Code is directed towards criminalising a wide-range of terrorist activity- including directing the activities of the organisation; recruiting persons to the organisation; receiving training from or provide training to the organisation; receiving funds from or make available funds to the organisation; providing support or resources to the organisation; being a member of the organisation.

 in contrast, the primary purpose of the UN Charter Act is to implement domestically, Australia’s international obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions that comprise the AQ and Taliban sanctions regime (1267, 1333, 1390, 1526) and UN Security Council Resolution 1373 – in other words to freeze the assets of entities and individuals listed by the UN 1267 Committee.

 There are therefore different considerations in deciding to list an individual or organisation under the UN Charter Act to the Criminal Code

 for example, Australia must list under the UN Charter Act all those individuals and organisations listed by the 1267 Committee whether or not they have any link to Australia – this list is maintained by DFAT as the consolidated list

 those individuals and entities (plus their various aliases) listed under the UN Charter Act fall into two groups:

- individuals and entities listed by the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee as affiliated with the Taliban or Al –Qaida (443) and

- individuals and entities the Mr Downer has decided, on the basis of information provided to him by relevant agencies, are associated with terrorism as provided in paragraph 1(c) of UNSC Resolution 1373 (89)

 under the Criminal Code, the Attorney General may designate a group as a terrorist organisation if he is satisfied on reasonable grounds that the group is directly or indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering the doing of a terrorist act, whether or not the terrorist act has occurred or will occur.

 The distinction between a terrorist asset freezing list and a list of banned organisations is also made in the domestic laws of the UK and the US.

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