A fortnightly Green Bulletin of News, Action and Analysis
NZ SEDITION LAWS SO LAST CENTURY.
Commenting on the outcome of the trial of Timothy Selwyn for sedition, Green Party Human Rights Spokesperson Keith Locke said on 9 June that a review of New Zealand’s sedition laws is urgently needed.
Selwyn was found guilty in the Auckland District Court of a charge of publishing a statement with seditious intent.
“We seem to be going back to the dark old days when sedition was used to suppress political dissent,” Keith said.
“New Zealand has an honourable tradition of civil disobedience against injustice, most notably during the Springbok tour of 1981. Thankfully the sedition laws weren’t used at that time, but the police now seemed prepared to prosecute anyone advocating such resistance.
“There is a big difference between inciting the immediate commission a specific criminal act, already covered by Sections 66 and 311 of the Crimes Act, and generalized calls for civil disobedience, which the sedition laws target.
“The sedition offences are so draconian that many news outlets could have been caught under Section 83, for publishing ‘any statement that expresses a seditious intention’, namely Tim Selwyn’s call for ‘like-minded New Zealanders to take similar action’ to his ‘symbolic’ protest.
“The sedition law should be urgently reviewed. Some of the sedition offences are clearly contrary to other New Zealand legislation. For example, the under Crimes Act, Section 81, we are not allowed to ‘excite disaffection against Her Majesty or the Government of New Zealand”, yet the more recent Bill of Rights provision protects our right to protest and ‘impart information and opinions in any kind of form.’.
“The Greens will be pushing both for a government review of the sedition clauses, and for the Justice and Electoral Select Committee to take up the matter.”
STUN GUNS HAVE NO PLACE IN NZ.
Speaking out against the proposed trials of stun guns (tasers) by the NZ police, Green Party Police Spokesperson Keith Locke said on 21st May that “The overseas evidence, including a report by Amnesty International, is that there are serious inherent risks involved in taser use, and over 150 deaths have been wholly or partly attributed to them.
Keith expressed concern that the Police have done no independent research into the safety risks that tasers pose, before they have sought to try them out on ordinary citizens. The trial context therefore puts pressure on the police to use these dangerous weapons to gather data for analysis, he said.
Further, given that the Police have not demonstrated they can adhere to pepper spray guidelines, Keith is concerned that ‘front line response staff’ will be authorised to use tasers i.e. this weapon will not be restricted to the more highly trained violent offenders squad.
and see Analysis, below, for the launch of the Campaign Against The Taser and comment by other concerned organisations.
GOVERNMENT BOMBS OUT OVER RAKON
The government’s green light to Rakon’ export of military grade oscillators sets a dangerous precedent for how to deal with dual use products, Green Party Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Keith Locke says.
“The government seems unwilling to offend one of New Zealand’s prime exporters, easing the rules to suit Rakon,” Mr Locke says. The justification used to take Rakon’s oscillators out of the strategic export control system misses the point.
“The question is not whether shock hardened and radiation hardened crystal oscillators are ‘specifically designed for military use’. Of course, both types of oscillators have a dual use, that is, they serve civilian as well as military purposes – for example, shock hardened oscillators in construction work, and radiation hardened oscillators in aerospace.
“The real debate is over whether Rakon should be taking research money from the American defence contractor Rockwell to develop a particular ‘high G-shock crystal’ to fit the specific military requirements of smart shells, as admitted by Rakon in a leaked May 6 2005 email.
“Secondly, should Rakon be allowed to develop a particular standard of “radiation hardened” oscillators to put into a proposed new American smart bomb navigation system, as also referred to in Rakon documents. These radiation hardened oscillators were also required to be able to function correctly at a depth of 135 metres, which is presumably a military specification for underground or underwater launched missiles.
“The government claims it has an ‘out’ under the Wassenaar agreement on strategic goods trading, which doesn’t specifically mention crystal oscillators, but international agreements allow flexibility, to cover what are normally civilian items, adapted for military use. New Zealand should err on the side of caution. To promote peace in the world we should not allow a Kiwi company to develop and export components critical to smart bombs and missiles that are going to be used in wars we don’t agree with, such as in Iraq, and potentially in even a nuclear war.
” At this level, we cannot pick and choose and dodge our responsibility. The Ministry would be thinking and acting somewhat differently if Rakon’s design, develop and export contracts were with, say, Iran, rather than with the United States which our government is reluctant to offend.
KEITH ON EYE TO EYE
Keith will be appearing on TV1’s Eye to Eye panel tomorrow morning, June 17, at 9.30am. The discussion, hosted by Willie Jackson, will be on the sedition law and free speech, in the light of the recent conviction of Tim Selwyn under this law.
SATURDAYS AND THURSDAYS FOR PEACE — AUCKLAND AND WELLINGTON.
On the first Saturday of every month there is a Rally for Justice and Peace in Palestine/ Israel in AUCKLAND. 2pm to 3pm, QEII Square at Customs Street and Queen Street intersection, outside Downtown shopping centre. For more information contact Palestine Human Rights Campaign –
The next rally is on Saturday July 1.
The rallies are calling for:
1. End Israeli Occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem)
2. Right of Return for Refugees.
3. Sharing Jerusalem.
4. Removal of all Settlements in occupied Palestine.
5. Stop construction of Israel’s annexation/apartheid wall
On the first and third Thursdays of the month there is a candle lit peace vigil in WELLINGTON from 5pm to 6pm at the Cenotaph (corner Lambton Quay and Bowen Street), with a focus on ending New Zealand’s support for the ‘war on terrorism’.
CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE TASER STUN GUN LAUNCHED.
On 12 May 2006 concerned community groups and individuals announced in Auckland that they had banded together to oppose Police plans to introduce the American-made Taser stun gun into New Zealand policing operations. In February, a Police press release announced plans to introduce Tasers, initially for use in five major Police districts including Auckland and Wellington.
“Campaign Against The Taser (CATT) has been formed to oppose these moves,” CATT spokesperson Marie Dyhrberg said.
In overseas jurisdictions where the Taser gun has been introduced, there has been mounting concern and controversy over its use. In America alone, there have been over 150 deaths in which the use or abuse of the Taser by police and other law enforcement officials has been implicated.
“In New Zealand, where the Police do not routinely carry firearms, there is no possible justification for the Taser’s introduction”, Marie Dyhrberg said.
“The New Zealand public does not support routine arming of the Police. It has made that clear over a long period of time. Certainly, before we even begin to contemplate introducing a dangerous weapon like the Taser in this country, there should be a full independent inquiry and a robust public debate. The Police should not be allowed to get away with introducing, by press release, fundamental changes to the way policing is conducted here.”
“The Taser looks like a gun, it fires a projectile (barbed darts) like a gun, it fells people like a gun and (overseas experience shows) can actually kill people, just like a gun”, said Ms Dyhrberg
Campaign Against The Taser supporters include the Human Rights Foundation of Aotearoa New Zealand, Global Peace and Justice Auckland, the Peace Foundation and Auckland University Law School’s Equal Justice Project and the Green Party. CATT held a successful public meeting in Auckland on Tuesday 6 June, addressed by experts on the legal, medical and human rights implications of Taser guns.
Marie Dyhrberg says that, with major concerns currently being voiced about the use and abuse by Police of pepper spray, it is critical that all of the implications of the proposed introduction by the Police of Taser guns in this country be thoroughly scrutinised.
“Pepper spray, an incapacitating weapon which the Police already have, is now being misused by individual Police officers, in ways never anticipated by New Zealanders when it was introduced.”Particularly given the experience with pepper spray, what is needed before entrusting still further dangerous weapons to our Police is an independent public inquiry. This should examine all aspects of the claimed need, potential risks of, and overall justification for introducing the Taser as part of general policing in this country”, Ms Dyhrberg said.
“The Police have not remotely established a sufficient justification for their move to introduce the Taser. All current proposals should be halted until they have been independently inquired into and fully justified, both to the New Zealand public and also to Parliament, which bears the ultimate responsibility for the welfare and safety of all New Zealanders. Furthermore, any move to arm the Police cannot occur without the introduction of appropriate legal authority and safeguards.”
CATT has written to the Commissioner of Police and the Minister of Police. The letters set out CATT concerns about the introduction of the Taser gun, and seek access to any information considered by the Commissioner and the Minister before the decision was made to introduce the Taser, as well as trial protocols and proposed operating and training procedures.
For more on CATT and its ongoing actions, go tp
HAS INTERNATIONAL RELIEF AND RECONSTRUCTION BEEN CAPTURED BY THE NEO-LIBS AND NEO-CONS?
In an article entitled ‘The Rise of the Relief and Reconstruction Complex, Filipino sociology professor and director of Focus on the Global South Walden Bello raises some disturbing concerns about the ways in which the current US brand of ‘humanitarianism’ has put strategic considerations before people’s needs. Disaster relief and post-conflict resolution are increasingly influenced by neo-liberal market economics, as promoted by the World Bank and influenced by the US, its dominant member. The article can be read at
UNDERSTANDING EAST TIMOR
Richard Tanter of the Nautilus Institute in Australia argues that “this is really the time for a little humility amongst the foreign pundits and experts” on the origins of the crisis in East Timor, and poses ten very relevant questions on the issue. To find out what they are go to:
Helen Hill from the Melbourne Age provides an informative background on the Alkatiri government and its tensions with Australia and the western model of development. Read her article, ” Stand up, the real Mr Alkatiri “, The Age, June 1, 2006.
JustPeace is produced by Christine Dann, Hannah Scott and Keith Locke, MP
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