AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE – Government must allow further scrutiny of Countering Terrorist Fighters Bill

By   /   November 28, 2014  /   3 Comments

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As the New Zealand government seeks to rush new through new anti-terror legislation, Amnesty International is raising grave concerns over the speed at which the Bill is being rushed through Parliament and is calling for an extension to the consultation period.

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As the New Zealand government seeks to rush new through new anti-terror legislation, Amnesty International is raising grave concerns over the speed at which the Bill is being rushed through Parliament and is calling for an extension to the consultation period.

“Slamming through legislation in such a short timeframe puts hard won and fundamental human rights at risk. It is a blow to the foundations of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements,” said Amanda Brydon, Advocacy Manager at Amnesty International.

“It is dangerous to rush through such measures without proper consultation, careful, thoughtful analysis is needed, not fast-tracking and grandstanding.”

While the Government has an important role in the protection of New Zealand from threats to national security, it has a responsibility to always uphold the very values and freedoms it is trying to defend. To do this it must ensure that any anti-terror protection measures are consistent with international human rights standards, something that has not been adequately done with the current bill.

The cancellation of passports and the increased surveillance of individuals, including circumstances where a warrant is not required, constitutes a fundamental interference with a range of human rights, including the rights to privacy, freedom of expression and freedom of movement.

These are just two of a number of questions Amnesty International and others have around the Bill.

Amnesty International also questions the Government’s justification that the legislation is being introduced to meet obligations as set out by a United Nations Security Council resolution to address foreign fighters.

“The same resolution also clearly states that governments must comply with their obligations under international law – including international human rights law – and that failure to do so contributes to radicalisation,” said Amanda Brydon.

“By only allowing 48 hours for consultation by experts and others, the Government is not allowing the opportunity for proper scrutiny and the ability to robustly discuss whether the proposals are indeed consistent with our obligations under international law.  The Security Council resolution should not be used to justify the haste with which this bill is being rushed through the consultation process.”

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3 Comments

  1. Save NZ says:

    Totally right. This bill is not about Terror it is about State Power and the erosion of peoples human rights outside of transparant scrutiny of the justice system. SIS has little accountability already, has been shown to be inept and politically motivated, and can just pull the ‘classified’ line when challenged on their actions.

    As well as human rights which are the obvious issues here, there are many side issues that have not had a chance to be explored.

    How this might impact trade and tourism?

    In some countries where the government is known to be spying, business professionals buy a blank computer at the airport, new phone and so forth to prevent espionage. I’m not exactly sure how all these convention centers being built are going to be filled if NZ government officials have the legal right to spy and film for 48 hours on anyone within the country without a warrant.

    One of the biggest things going for NZ is our ‘clean green safe pure NZ’ image. That image will be tarnished by this bill as well as the idea that ISIS agents are active here and an eminent threat, and that the government also legally has the right to film and survey anyone without a warrant.

    Personally many Kiwis might not be keen to live here with that, let alone encouraging the business and tourism sectors into this country.

  2. UglyTruth says:

    Hard won human rights? What a joke. Human rights are a legal fictions used as political bargaining chips, nothing more.

    Sure, the attempt to ram through legislation over the holiday season is a real problem, or maybe a symptom or a larger one. But framing it in terms of what the “government allows” only serves to feed the monster in the human heart, the mindless obedience to the traditions of liars, cowards, and fools.

  3. FreeManNZ FreeManNZ says:

    The disgusting manner in which our freedoms (such as they are) are being stripped away by this Bill is abhorrent. The concessions touted by the Labour Party as being a victory are nothing of the sort.

    Warrantless surveillance without just cause has historically been fought against because it hands too much power to the State. Those in power can choose to exercise it over dissidents (otherwise known as free-thinkers) or anybody who they believe they need to know more about. Sometimes this sort of power is even just used to intimidate. How frightening would it be to find signs that the SIS has been inside your house filming you?

    I am glad that Amnesty International is speaking up on this issue. I disagree with UglyTruth that human rights are legal fictions. The laws which are in place to protect them are there for a reason, privacy, freedom of speech and freedom of movement are fundamental to the wellbeing of an individual and the healthy functioning of a State.