30 November 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thousands Call For Parliament To Keep Terrorist Charges For Terrorist Activities And Material Only
In less than 24 hours, over 5,000 Kiwis have signed the Free Speech Union's petition calling on Parliament to drop Clause 15 of the Counter-Terrorism Acts (Designations and Control Orders) Amendment Bill. The Justice Select Committee must protect Kiwis' speech rights and civil liberties, and amend this legislation before sending it back to the House, says Jonathan Ayling, spokesperson for the Union.
"Terrorist charges need to be used for terrorist activity, not regulating material that has nothing to do with terrorism. Watering down such a significant term runs the risk of seeing Kiwis legally branded 'terrorists' without ever performing any terrorist act, or even accessing material which promotes terrorism.
"The act of terrorism comes with appropriately harsh penalties. By extending terrorism related charges to individuals who possess certain 'objectionable material', these significant penalties may be placed on those who have simply accessed censored material, despite it being unrelated to terrorism.
"Legislation already allows for individuals in possession of material which advocates or inspires terrorism to be charged under terrorism laws. Extending this further to material that is entirely unrelated to terrorism is a law ripe for abuse.
"New Zealand already has a strict censorship regime. It's not hard to imagine the incredible harm which could occur to speech rights and other liberties if this amendment was used as a precedent to justify the prohibition of other material under terrorism legislation.
"Thousands have called on Parliament to keep terrorist charges for terrorist activity and material. The stakes are too high to bandy this term about."
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