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He Whenua Taurikura: NZ's Hui On Countering Terrorism & Violent Extremism

A Resounding Success, But Many Key Lessons Learned

The Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) has released the preliminary results of a formative evaluation survey on the hui on counterterrorism and extremism. “What is very pleasing is that an overwhelming number of the respondents considered that attending the hui was of value to them“, said Ibrar Sheikh, President of FIANZ. “The panel discussion on the media’s role was considered the most useful, and this was not surprising “, said Abdur Razzaq, Chairperson of FIANZ Royal Commission Submission and Follow-Up. “In an earlier report to the Coordinating Minister, Hon Andrew Little in March this year, we had given detailed evidence that the role of the media in promoting Islamophobia was one of the biggest concerns of the Muslim community.”

Whilst FIANZ in the past have criticised the role of the DPMC in the implementation of the Royal Commission Recommendations, we now have to congratulate them at a number of levels, said Abdur Razzaq. For example, they have met the timeframe targets we had set in February for many of the 44 Recommendations. In some cases, they are ahead of the target.

For instance, the preponing of the Intelligence and Security Amendment Bill was a total surprise. It gives us more time to research and prepare. The new Ministry for Ethnic Communities is scheduled to start on 1 July. The Collective Impact Board and the Oversight Advisory Boards have also been appointed. The NZSIS and the NZ Police both have reference groups.

The NZ Police having gone to great lengths to co-design with the community almost all the RCOI recommendations. To our knowledge this type of consultation is a global best practice in community-oriented policing. What is of more interest is not just the timeframe targets but also the quality of the implementation and the hui survey results also point towards a positive direction, said Ibrar Sheikh. There are however lessons learned. These include, more direct involvement of the affected whānau, survivors and witnesses. There is also a need to ensure that the tikanga process is embedded into the design of the consultation. These and other recommendations will be discussed with DPMC in the planning for next year’s hui.

The current hui was a specific FIANZ initative. We were the only organization which specified in our submission the need for such public discussion and a Centre of Excellence which is New Zealand-centric. We were pleased that this was adopted by the Royal Commission and now the DPMC has implemented within the timetable scheduled we had proposed.

FIANZ notes that this is the first time anywhere in the world where there has been a nexus between government Ministers, senior public servants and policy makers, academics, the media, and civic society to focus on issues of national interest. “This is the only way to achieve an all-of-government with all-of-society approach to address critical issues such as counterterrorism, extremism, hate, racism and social cohesion”, said Abdur Razzaq.

Of most significance is that this hui was one of the first tangible evidence of the Prime Minister’s acceptance of all the recommendations “in principle”, which is now being implemented by Minister Little “in practice”, said Abdur Razzaq. This transition from ‘intention to implementation’ is of pivotal importance. The key question remains is that whilst some of the recommendations have started to be implemented, have sufficient funds been set aside for all the recommendations? In this respect, FIANZ shall be releasing a four-part Report, starting with the role of the Treasury, said Abdur Razzaq.

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