HRF Joint Statement with Amnesty and others opposing urgency on Terrorist Fighters legislation

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A joint statement by over 20 organisations has been delivered to all political parties highlighting concerns with the Government’s proposed Foreign Fighters Bill.

A broad coalition of New Zealand’s leading academics and human rights, legal and migrant organisations today called on the Government to delay the passage of its proposed anti-terror laws to allow more comprehensive

Following the release of the Select Committee report, the 20-plus organisations highlighted major concerns with the Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014, which the Government is currently attempting to rush through Parliament. The joint statement was delivered to Attorney-General Chris Finlayson and all political parties this morning.

A diverse range of groups and individuals, including the Human Rights Lawyers Association, the Human Rights Foundation of Aotearoa New Zealand, Amnesty International New Zealand and the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand, have disputed the Government’s claims that the Bill is compatible with New Zealand’s human rights obligations.

“Human security is a human right”, said Peter Hosking, Chairperson of the Human Rights Foundation of Aotearoa New Zealand, “and the government has an important duty to protect the community from terrorism. Laws can legitimately limit the rights of individuals for the purpose of countering security threats, but these limitations must be both necessary and proportionate.” he said.

“The United Nations Security Council (to which New Zealand was recently elected) has, in Resolution 2178, made clear that any measures taken to ensure such protection must also comply with all of the state’s other human rights obligations, including those relating to fair trials and due process and the rights to privacy, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement.”

The coalition of organisations and experts are highlighting several key concerns with the Bill, including a failure to justify the measures and the expansion of surveillance powers. However, they are particularly concerned about the urgency with which this Bill is being rushed through Parliament.

“By failing to provide adequate time for consultation by experts and others, the Government is denying the opportunity for proper scrutiny and robust debate as to whether the proposals are indeed consistent with New Zealand’s obligations under international law,” said Amanda Brydon, Advocacy Manager at Amnesty International.

“In particular, the Government already has the power under the Passports Act to suspend passports for a year. There is no need for the urgency under which the measures are being enacted.”

“Countering terrorism strategies will not be successful if human rights are not respected and protected.”