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Government moves to repeal sedition laws

7 June 2007

Government moves to repeal sedition laws

The Government introduced a Bill to Parliament today to abolish New Zealand's sedition laws.

The Crimes (Repeal of Seditious Offences) Amendment Bill was introduced by Justice Minister Mark Burton who also tabled the Government's response to the Law Commission's report Reforming the Law of Sedition.

The Bill will repeal and not replace sections 81 to 85 of the Crimes Act 1961, which sets out the seditious offences.

"The sedition provisions infringe on the principle of freedom of expression and have the potential for abuse," Mark Burton said.

"The Government agrees with the Law Commission's finding that the present law of sedition attacks the democratic value of free speech for no adequate public reason.

"The sedition laws are broad and uncertain. Behaviour covered by sedition laws that still needs to be criminalised can be more appropriately dealt with by other provisions of the criminal law. Offences relevant to sedition are dealt with in other statutes including the Summary Offences Act, other provisions of the Crimes Act and the Terrorism Suppression Act.

"I would like to thank the Law Commission for its comprehensive report. The compelling arguments put forward by the Law Commission have already attracted wide support.

"I would encourage all MPs to support this Bill, which will better protect the values of democracy and free speech through the abolition of these outdated provisions."

In July 2006 the Law Commission was asked to review the seditious offences in the Crimes Act 1961 and to make recommendations for reform. The Law Commission's report was tabled in Parliament in April.

The seditious offences cover making or publishing a statement that expresses a seditions intention, conspiring with a seditious intention and using apparatus for making seditious documents or statements.

ENDS

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