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Secret Draconian Terrorism Bill Amendments Push


ACTION ALERT ACTION ALERT ACTION ALERT

30 October 2001

GOVERNMENT PUSHES SECRET DRACONIAN TERRORISM BILL AMENDMENTS

Last night's television and this morning's newspapers and radios highlighted the plans of the Government to introduce amendments to the Terrorism (Bombing and Financing} Bill. The Bill is likely to go back to Parliament early November.

The status of the bill is shrouded in secrecy but it appears:

- The bill was introduced in April this year ostensibly to give effect to the international UN convention on Bombing and Financing of Terrorism conventions.

- It appears no one put in any submission on the Bill, it was not widely advertised or discussed in the media and not many civil liberties organisations took notice of it. [If there are people out there who have made submissions please let us know and send us a copy if possible].

- Now, post 11 September, it is reported that the Government has introduced amendments to the original bill that will include new and more severe / drastic clauses. However Foreign Minister Phil Goff says that these amendments will not be made public and only a handful of "key" organisations will be invited to make submissions on them.

- Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee member Keith Locke M.P. has described the amendments as "draconian".

Why it is important to have an informed debate on the issue:

- Post-11 September, many governments are introducing similar legislation. Ostensibly to fight international terrorism, these laws target domestic dissent and challenges to the pernicious economic policies with devastating social consequences for people everywhere;

- Phil Goff says that the legislation uses similar wording to British, Canadian, US and Australian legislation. Yet human and democratic rights groups in these countries are protesting at their legislation.

- Years of work by democratic rights and civil liberties activists everywhere risk being thrown overboard;

In relation to the NZ Bill and the amendments:

- it follows the political tradition that both National and Labour have created of ramming through important legislation without debate;

- it follows the political trend of introducing far reaching changes of constitutional nature in dribs and drabs, so that whereas each piece of legislation appears to focus on a single issue, together it constitutes major shift in democratic rights and civil liberties of people;

- The present bill needs to be read with the two amendments to the SIS bill that went through in 1996 and 1997. In NZ at least, national security is no longer one that deals with political actions or actions against the State; those amendments have redefined 'national security' to include issues that allegedly threaten the economic well being of NZ and we may recall the house-breaking saga at the home of Aziz Chodhry in Christchurch;

- Many New Zealander's are asking the question now more than at any other time, whether they want the nation's destiny to remain one of colonial subordination to the imperial powers, first Britain first and now the United States . that is what this Bill will do if not challenged;

- The Bill purports to deal with international terrorism but the trial and sentencing will be by domestic courts and at the prosecution left to the government of the day;

- If NZ's recent stand on international issues is any yardstick, it means the law will be used to aid and assist the US and its allies;

- The Bill comes at a time when the UN has become ineffective, the US refuses to subject itself to the International Court of Justice or the International Criminal Court. In this context, Bill goes a step further in sidestepping the need strong international organisations and dealing with major international issues bilaterally where decisions could be based on political expediency;

- The next time people want to go off to protest globalisation in Seattle, Melbourne or wherever . the bill could expose them to charges overseas and at home.

- The Bill introduces some complex amendments to a number of statutes from the Crimes Act, Immigration Act and many others. It is not possible to even analyse the bill if the contents of the bill are not debated and the amendments publicised.

As stated earlier, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Phil Goff has said that only a select group of about 6 "key" organisations will be allowed to see the amendments and make a submission on them to the Select Committee. He therefore intends to deny this democratic process all other groups and individuals who have an interest in this matter. As these 6 "key" organisations will be bound by parliamentary privilege they will not be able to tell others about the amendments.

This is outrageous. We are being told that we have to lose our democratic rights in order to combat a "terrorism" that we are not even allowed to know the definition of.

As Foreign Minister, Phil Goff does not have power over the Foreign Affairs. Defence and Trade Select Committee. It is up to that Select Committee to decide what submissions that it will call and hear.

The Select Committee will be making that decision on Thursday 1 November 2001.

It is important that as many groups and individuals as possible write to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee seeking to make submissions on the amendments to the Terrorism (Bombing and Finance) Bill and seeking adequate time to make such submissions.

To have the greatest effect this must be done on Wednesday 31 October 2001.

To do this please immediately e-mail David Sanders, Secretary of the FADT Select Committee and send a copy to Graham Kelly, Chair of the Select Committee.

david.sanders@parliament.govt.nz

graham.kelly@parliament.govt.nz

Also e-mail MP Keith Locke. Congratulate him on his stand on this Bill and seek further information from him as to what the Select Committee is up to.

keith.locke@parliament.co.nz

Please keep the pressure on the Select Committee to open consideration of the Bill and amendments to public scrutiny. We would welcome ideas for further actions that can be taken to ensure this Bill does not proceed. Please contact us at the address below.

This Action Alert has been brought to you by ARENA

(Action, Research & Education Network of Aotearoa.

P.O. Box 2450 CHRISTCHURCH

Tel: (03) 381 2951

Fax: (03) 348 4763

Email: arena.nz@clear.net.nzWeb: www.arena.org.nz


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