Legal expert wary anti-terrorism bill will target protestors, dissenters

By Whatitiri Te Wake

Amendments to the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill now before Parliament's justice committee are causing concerns for law professor Khylee Quince. She says while some amendments are required she has concerns about the impacts this law may pose to Māori.

The bill will alter the existing Terrorism Suppression,  Search and Surveillance and the Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Acts in light of the two terrorism attacks in New Zealand.

“We need to be wary of overreach and no one should be warier than tangata whenua, than Māori, than environmentalists and people who would be protestors and dissenters, who are not the sort of people that we would tend to think would fit the terrorist label,” Quince says.

She's hopeful that the amendments will fill gaps to ensure overreach and over surveillance of Māori won't happen as previously seen in the Tūhoe raids of 2007.

Whilst the bill is before the select committee, she questions whether the government has undertaken sufficient consultation to ensure tangata whenua views and concerns are represented in the legislation.

While the process in which this legislation has reached Parliament hasn't changed, she sees great opportunity in the government relooking at how Māori genuinely interact with the law-making process and sees potential in the Māori-Crown entity Te Arawhiti playing a significant role in ensuring adequate Māori input is obtained.

Ensure Māori participation

“Rather than just allowing us to have the same rights as everybody else, they should be ensuring our participation and voices are heard and that can be done with an agency tasked with doing that kind of mahi,” she says.

Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon stresses the importance of having Māori voices and human rights at the fore of the legislation. He says the Human Rights Commission had submitted a submission in 2015, and is yet to hear back.

“They have not reported back on the progress the government have made on talking to Māori in terms of Te Tiriti o Waitangi rights and human rights in the bill itself,” he says.

When asked if the Prime Minister was certain the law would prevent overreach and over surveillance on Māori, she says getting the balance is important

“These are things that are not just up to submitters to make sure this is the case, it's up to us as ministers and as a cabinet to ensure we get the balance right, that we are targeting those that we do have a genuine concern over, that we've got a gap in the law without seeing any overreach.”

The first report was due in November but the Prime Minister this week said change is required as soon as possible