Greens urge caution on use of Terrorism Act

Keith’s speech in Parliament

about the arrests


The Green Party is totally opposed to the use of violence and weapons, but is worried that reference to the Terrorism Suppression Act in the current situation is having a chilling effect on those involved in protest action.

“We can make no judgement on the guilt or innocence of those charged, but we are utterly against any New Zealander even thinking of using arms for political purposes,” Green Party Human Rights Spokesperson Keith Locke says.

“However, we do understand the upset of those community groups across the country who have been subjected to searches and/or interrogation with reference to the Terrorism Suppression Act.

“The Green Party has long held that the Crimes Act covers all the offences that could be labelled ‘terrorism’, including the use of violence, planning for violent acts, or belonging to a criminal group. The Law Society has criticised the current Terrorism Suppression Amendment Bill in just these terms, saying it is confusing to introduce a new ‘terrorist act’ and thereby set up a system of parallel offences.

“Even then Justice Minister Phil Goff said in October 2003 ‘terrorism should be dealt under general criminal law wherever possible because terrorist acts are usually criminal offences committed with an ideological, political or religious motive’.”

Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says some of those arrested were very young and the Party has concerns that the enthusiasm to gain a successful prosecution under this Act for the first time could see these people’s rights compromised.

“I am concerned that these young people are being detained for lengthy periods without bail in police cells and prisons, incommunicado, apparently for the purpose of interrogation to collect information about others.

“The Greens will be seeking an assurance from the Minister that they will not be subjected to harsh methods and intimidation.

“The Green Party strongly supports the rights of New Zealanders to stand up and protest over what they believe in, however, we are strongly opposed to the use of violence, firearms and other weapons to reach such ends,” Ms Fitzsimons says.