Amnesty International is concerned that Justice Minister Andrew Little’s Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill could have the potential to undermine human rights in New Zealand.
The Bill would give the New Zealand Police the ability to apply to the High Court to impose “control orders” on New Zealanders for up to two years, if they are found to have engaged in “terrorism-related” activities overseas.
Advocacy and Policy Manager Annaliese Johnston says the organisation will be examining the legislation closely for any potential unintended consequences.
“Much of Amnesty International’s work is supporting human rights advocates around the world, many of whom are protesting and rallying for human rights such as access to food, water, decent work and religious freedoms. The problem is, we often see the word “terrorism” being applied broadly by oppressive regimes to detain innocent people who’re simply rallying for a better life.”
“Whilst the local definition of terrorism is much narrower here in New Zealand, we have concerns that the new law could still harm people falsely characterised by oppressive regimes overseas, if that information is influencing a New Zealand judge’s decision.”
The Bill could have ramifications for people seeking refuge or asylum here.
“We know from cases such as Ahmed Zaoui’s that using information from overseas regimes can be highly unreliable and lead to injustice for people actually seeking protection from persecution.”
Amnesty International will also be investigating the implications the control orders may have for other rights in New Zealand and urges the Government not to rush the law through.
“A law that places significant restrictions on New Zealanders’ freedoms outside of the fair trial process is extremely concerning. If New Zealand wants to actually live up to its human rights obligations then the Government should tread very carefully.”