New Zealand’s new Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill has passed its first reading and will now be considered by Parliament’s Justice Select Committee.
The Bill aims to update and improve the country’s counter-terrorism legislation in the wake of the Christchurch mosque massacre in 2019 and other perceived terrorism threats, including increasing attacks by so-called ‘lone wolves’.
It is the Government’s first step in implementing Recommendation 18 of the Royal Commission into the Terrorist Attack on 15 March 2019. It amends the Terrorism Suppression Act of 2002 and Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Act of 2019.
“The Bill responds to the changing nature of terrorism internationally and domestically. Our laws need to recognise and provide a framework to allow early intervention, including against those who operate outside organised terrorist groups,” Justice Minister Kris Faafoi said.
Laws must be updated to better protect people
“It is important that our laws remain up to date and provide us with the ability to better protect those who call New Zealand home.”
Among other things, the new law will clarify the definition of a ‘terrorist act’, create a new offence to criminalise planning or preparation for a terrorist act, and establish a new offence that specifically criminalises terrorist weapons and combat training for terrorist purposes.
It will also make it an offence to travel abroad to carry out terrorist activities, expand the crime of financing terrorism to include other forms of support for terrorism, and extend the use of control orders to include people who have completed a prison sentence related to terrorism but continue to present a risk.
Faafoi said this was an important milestone in responding to the recommendations of the Royal Commission and the Justice Select Committee would soon call for public submissions on the Bill.
Community will be able to comment on Bill
“The Select Committee process is an important part of developing legislation; providing the opportunity for communities to provide their thoughts on the Bill. I encourage everyone to get involved in that process,” he stated.
Last month, the minister said he believed the changes in the Bill would not have prevented the March 15 attacks, but they would in future enable agencies to act in a more efficient and practical way – including against an individual.
“The crimes perpetrated against members of our Muslim community on March 15 two years ago brought terrorism to this country in a way we had never seen before,” Faafoi stated in April.
“The attack also mirrored how the nature of terrorism has been changing internationally, involving lone actors rather than organised terrorist groups. We need to ensure our laws can respond to that.”