OASIS on the Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill

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Terrorism Suppression Bill

The Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill will turn on its head the idea of ‘innocent until proven guilty’. The ramming of the Bill through parliament is yet another dog whistle to the mantra of terrorism. This time the terror is the fear of people coming from overseas who may have been involved in terrorist-related activities overseas. If terrorism related activity is suspected but there is not enough evidence to charge someone, the person could instead be subject to ‘Control Orders’.

Decisions about Control Orders could be reached and made in secret and without criminal level of guilt.

Control Orders will be extremely intrusive. People could have their day-to-day life curtailed or even be detained without any charge. Orders can ‘include limits on movement, communications with others, disclosing or receiving information, use of technology, buying or selling property, and engaging in specific activities in respect of their work, and recreation. They can further include requirements to report to the police regularly, submit to electronic monitoring, and to allow police to monitor/search their house, workplace, equipment, internet usage etc.(1)’ Control Orders could also last up to six years. It is worth noting that Control Orders could be a lot more invasive than any bail or parole conditions that the ‘justice system’ currently have at their disposal.

The Orders will be punishment without even the pretense of a trial.

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Control Orders will be extremely difficult to challenge. The evidence used to support the Control Order will be heard in secret. The suspected person will have a special security-cleared state appointed advocate who will be able to hear the evidence and argue on behalf of the suspected person and any lawyer they may have. The Green Party says it was the insertion of an ‘advocate’ in the Bill that allowed them to support the Bill at its first reading on 24th October.

National does not support the Bill, they want it to be stronger. They want the age to be dropped to 14.

When Andrew Little announced the Bill just a few weeks ago, he said it was needed because of the “likelihood a New Zealand passport holder from that region [Syria] will come back to New Zealand or will want to come back to New Zealand is rising by the day.” [2] Specifically, the government is arguing that the Bill is urgent because since the Kurdish people have had to prioritise defending themselves against Turkey rather than guarding ISIS prisoners, Mark Taylor may be able to return to NZ. (It’s a whole other argument about why the Kurds got stuck with a whole lot of foreign fighters and why countries like NZ didn’t step up and assist the Kurds from the start by repatriating any NZ citizens).

However, no new law should be created for people like Mark Taylor. Existing surveillance laws and policing powers should be sufficient to allow police to monitor & prosecute anyone like Mark Taylor. And in fact there already is an arrest warrant out for Taylor. [3]

Further, despite the mess of the current Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 it does have one clause that should cover Mark Taylor. Part 2 Clause 13 states that:
(1) A person commits an offence who participates in a group or organisation for the purpose stated in subsection (2), knowing that or being reckless as to whether the group or organisation is—(a) a designated terrorist entity; or
(b) an entity that carries out, or participates in the carrying out of, 1 or more terrorist acts.
And the punishment can be a sentence of up to 14 years in prison.

Surely, if the government really believed there was an issue with Mark Taylor, he could be arrested at the border and charged with participation.

But Mark Taylor is a divergence from the real issue. The real issue is the regular ramping up of the fear of terror, the threat of terror held over our heads to ensure the constant strengthening of state powers. This time it will lead to the introduction of Control Orders. And once more the people who will be disproportionately affected by them will be people with family connections from specific parts of the world and those most targeted will be refugees, migrants and asylum seekers.

Control Orders must be stopped.

During the early debates about the Bill Andrew Little said he was “feeling ‘dicked around’ by National” [4] but this Bill and the speed at which it is being rammed through is dicking us all around.