The Green Party is warning that New Zealanders’ rights to protest and to strike could be threatened by provisions contained in the Counter-Terrorism Bill, which was reported back to Parliament today.
“We shouldn’t give the police the extra powers contained in the bill, or expand the Crimes Act to enable advocates of non-violent protest to be jailed,” said Keith Locke, the Green Human Rights spokesperson.
“Amendments to criminal legislation, with no particular reference to terrorism, are being smuggled in under the guise of what is misleadingly called a ‘Counter-Terrorism’ bill.”
Mr Locke warned that three of the bill’s provisions, amending the Crimes Act, Summary Proceedings Act and Misuse of Drugs Act, are particularly intrusive.
“Police will now have a generalised power, under warrant, to put tracking devices on people.
“When searching premises police will be able to demand computer passwords and encryption devices, even though this breaches a person’s right to avoid self-incrimination.
“Also, police ‘fishing expeditions’ are made easier because they will be able to use interception warrants issued for one purpose to be used to look for evidence on a whole range of crimes.”
“Anti-GE protesters could be the first target of another Crimes Act amendment prescribing up to seven years jail for anyone threatening actions causing ‘major economic loss to one or more persons’,” Keith Locke pointed out. “Strikes could also be inhibited by this provision.
“Even though the legislation says a strike or a protest ‘by itself’ is not a crime, it’s clear that an intention to damage a GE crop or bring a worksite to a standstill could still put you foul of the law.
“Another part of the bill amends the Terrorism Suppression Act.
“While the Green Party supports compliance with international conventions on the misuse of nuclear materials and plastic explosives, there is an intrinsic problem in the original Act’s overly broad definition of terrorism that places innocent protesters or international solidarity activists at risk. The process of designating who is a terrorist is still too politicised and secretive,” said Mr Locke.