FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Censorship doesn’t work: National's policy to ban patches is counterproductive
National’s policy to ban gang patches in public will cause more harm than good. It won’t protect those who are victims of gang violence and crime, and will push gangs further underground to fester. It’s a bad policy and will be counterproductive, says Jonathan Ayling, the Chief Executive of the Free Speech Union.
“National plans to ban gang patches in public spaces and to suppress gang communication and social media usage. But this does not mean gang activity will cease to exist. Rather, it will simply push it out of sight. If associates of gangs are telling us who they are, we’re better to listen.
“National’s gang policies are grandstanding, appealing to fear. This policy not only fails to deal with the issue; it will compound the harms of crime and violence.
“This morning on TVNZ’s Breakfast, Christopher Luxon was asked several times if his policies were a breach of human rights. He was unable to answer, and was disturbingly unconcerned by the issue. But the answer is yes. No matter how much you dislike gangs, they are protected by the Bill of Rights, including freedom of expression, like anyone else.
“Luxon commented that gang members want Kiwis' rights without the responsibilities, and failure to meet those responsibilities means gangs lose their rights. Luxon should clarify what he means – the implication that Kiwis can lose their human rights if they don’t fulfill these unspecified responsibilities is chilling
“We already have laws in place to prevent public disorder, soliciting criminal activity and incitement to violence, so enforce those.
“National says themselves that ‘Gang crimes don’t just happen; they’re co-ordinated and planned’; how do they expect to know what’s happening if everything is arranged underground?
“There are underlying issues that won’t go away by breaching the Bill of Rights. We urge National to consider the risks of these policies.”
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