Thursday, March 07, 2013

CERA vs free speech

Today, Green MP Eugenie Sage was scheduled to lead a small protest in laying a wreath in Christchurch's Red Zone for the death of Canterbury's democracy. CERA banned it. I'll let their "reasons" speak for themselves:

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery granted the group access to the cordoned area, but revoked it on Thursday morning.

Ms Sage said chief executive Roger Sutton told her he could not allow a political protest to take place in the former red zone.

James Dann gives more detail on Twitter:
I was part of the group organising the protest; they approved 8 of us to go in, then revoked access on hearing media coming

This is pretty obviously a content-based restriction on freedom of expression. "Non-political" protests are allowed. "Political" ones with media coverage aren't. And that in turn is pretty obviously a direct contravention of the BORA's affirmation of the right to freedom of expression.

CERA is an arm of the executive. It is therefore bound by the BORA in all of its decision-making. It has behaved with utter contempt for the law in this case. The question is what can be done about it.