Franks: Government's Use Of Police Action To Silence Political Activists Chilling

Published: Wed 24 Feb 2021 10:25 AM
The Free Speech Coalition is slamming the Minister for Corrections' referral to the Police of overblown claims of 'incitement to violence' related to a political pamphlet published by prison reform group People Against Prisons Aotearoa.
Free Speech Coalition spokesperson and lawyer Stephen Franks says: "From our reading of the pamphlet, the Government's view that it should be suppressed as punishable speech makes them unfit to govern a democracy."
"Thinking New Zealand should be fearful. If that pamphlet is the measure of ‘incitement to violence’ we can expect their coming hate speech laws to disregard centuries of painful experience. Years of struggle, under threats of disorder far more real than now, gave us the definitions that have protected our rights to protest, to expose government ruthlessness, heartlessness and abuses of power."
"Expansions of the historically recognised limitations on free speech will inevitably be used to silence critics of the powerful. If this government wants to know why lawbreaking protest is blossoming, they could look at their own capitulation to unlawful acts. That is the real incitement."
"Free speech has always involved 'fighting talk'. As long as it is not calculated to incite imminent violence, it must be accepted as necessary to the workings of a vigorous culture of political debate."

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