For Immediate Release
Thursday, 8 November 2007
New Zealand Let Down By ‘Incoherent’ Law
“New Zealanders have been let down by ‘incoherent’ law, and Police action to protect the public against what the Solicitor-General described as ‘very disturbing activities’ has been jeopardised as a result,” Police Association President Greg O'Connor said today.
“It is encouraging that the Solicitor-General has backed the Police one hundred per cent in shutting down these activities. But the serious short-comings of the Terrorism Suppression Act mean that, unfortunately, the most compelling of the evidence he and Police have seen will probably never be made public,” Mr O’Connor said.
“That’s highly unfortunate because, in its absence, the sceptics and critics will take a degree of comfort from this ruling that they are not entitled to draw.”
“More importantly, it now seems that if Police were to stumble across a group organising to conduct political violence in future, they couldn’t take any action until the bombs are set. Most New Zealanders would agree that is crazy,” Mr O’Connor said.
The Solicitor-General’s ruling was based on his interpretation of the law, essentially being that an alleged offender has to be linked to a specific terrorist act that has been planned or carried out. Carrying out the training necessary to execute such attacks, even if the intention to mount such attacks can be proven, is not enough.
“Police had legal advice prior to going down this track. Clearly the Solicitor-General’s interpretation differs from that advice. Given the seriousness of the activities concerned and the alleged threat, perhaps he could have erred on the side of public safety, and allowed the Courts to settle any dispute that might have arisen,” Mr O’Connor said.
“Instead, the Terrorism Suppression Act will now languish on our statute books as ‘incoherent’ law, and New Zealanders will continue to be at risk from the sorts of activities it was intended to prevent, until Parliament fixes it. Unfortunately, the diversionary ‘Police vs Maori’ nonsense that has been whipped up over the last few weeks means there is unlikely to be any political appetite to do so,” Mr O’Connor said.