The Law Commission’s call for a repeal of sedition laws is being supported by the Green Party.
“These archaic laws have no place in a democracy,” Green Party Human Rights Spokesperson Keith Locke says.
“They were originally designed to stop people from criticising the monarch, but later governments found them useful against political dissenters.
“Many New Zealanders convicted of sedition as now considered heroes, including Te Whiti and Rua Kenana. Catholic Bishop James Liston was also charged.
“Helen Clark should remember that three former Labour Party leaders — Harry Holland, Peter Fraser and Walter Nash — were once convicted of sedition under conservative governments. Given this history, it is a sad irony that the first sedition prosecution for decades (of Tim Selwyn) recently occurred on Labour’s watch.
“The law of sedition violates the free speech provisions of our Bill of Rights, punishing people for their thoughts rather than their actions. As the Law Commission points out, those directly inciting others to commit a particular crime are caught by other provisions of the Crimes Act.
“The Government should move with some urgency to get rid of this draconian law. If Labour won’t take action the Greens will. I already have a Private Members Bill drafted and ready to be put into the ballot,” Mr Locke says.