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IWCNZ Submission To Royal Commission To Be Publicly Released

The Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand will share parts 1 and 2 of the submission we presented to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch Mosque Attacks. The aim is to ensure New Zealand is fully informed about the efforts IWCNZ took prior to March 15, 2019 to protect our community from discrimination, hate and harm. We feel it is important Kiwis know what occurred so the country can put in place better and more effective systems to ensure this does not happen again to any community within our shores.

Frances Joychild, QC, who represented IWCNZ before the Commission, confirms:

“There were repeated major public service delivery failures in relation to government dealings with and responsibilities towards the Muslim community in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is likely that, but for the failures (particularly of the security services and police), the horrific events of March 15, 2019, might not have occurred.

“If effective public service delivery had occurred and the requested structures and support put in place, the country would likely have been in a far better position to prevent or limit the destruction caused by the shooter.”

The Affected Families:

Dr Maysoon Salama is the National Coordinator of IWCNZ, as well as in one of the affected families. She says

“It is vital that all government agencies and services ensure they are providing culturally and religiously responsive support to minorities and ethnic groups.

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“Government should be looking at development of long-term community building initiatives, as well as long-term support and compensation for victims' families. Yes, there has been short term assistance, but the impact has been huge and will require long recovery time.

“There is clear need for establishing an independent Muslim Arbitration Tribunal for the impacted families, to deal with issues such as inheritance. Such a legal body or commission should be well-resourced to understand Islamic faith and laws.”

IWCNZ’s Evidence:

IWCNZ’s evidence confirms IWCNZ continually forewarned the NZ government through agencies and upto Ministers about the risks the Muslim community faced and the Council’s warning were ignored. The evidence submitted to the Royal Commission is extensive. There were threats for the date of March 15, 2019 and community leaders raised these with the authorities. If heeded, there would have been support in front of the Christchurch mosques on that day to prevent the attacks.

Likewise, IWCNZ has raised concerns about social media with the government and that it was damaging New Zealand. IWCNZ also raised concerns directly with Facebook.

Aliya Danzeisen, who led and continues to lead IWCNZ’s government engagement, says:

“Our efforts to get the government’s attention to provide for our community prior to March 15 were extensive and crossed several years covering both the past and current governments. Evidence indicates that public sector employees were, at best, asleep on the job and, at worst, intentionally ignoring our pleas and actively undermining our work. If this can happen in the most open and transparent country in the world, all communities are at risk. People need to know IWCNZ’s story so that those involved in government work never allow this to occur on their watch.”

Recommendations:

Anjum Rahman, media spokesperson for IWCNZ, says:

"Our experience has been mirrored by so many communities, and shows the need for government to change the way it works. The government must work to empower communities. We maintain that the structures of these institutions, and the systems and processes used by people in them, are discriminatory in design.

"There needs to be more direct accountability of public servants to the communities they serve. An independent Ethics Board must be established to oversee the entire CVE area, including security. Funding should be devolved to communities rather than being held in the public service, so that communities have more control over the programmes and solutions that are implemented. A more service-oriented public service is crucial in solving the problems we encountered and in keeping the community safe."

For the specific location of the press conference and to obtain a copy of IWCNZ’s submissions, please register at this link by midday Sunday 5 July: Registration.

The submissions will be released at 7am on Tuesday 7 July 2020 to all registered media, but are also subject to the embargo until the start of the Press Conference at 10:30 am (GMT+12).

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