Thursday, April 05, 2007

Repealing sedition

The Law Commission has finally released its report on Reforming the Law of Sedition, and is recommending a full repeal.

The full report (which I'll link to when it goes online) takes a good look at the history of seditious offences, their use in New Zealand and overseas, and whether they can be justified in a free and democratic society. It concludes that the law has been used to muzzle unpopular speech and punish critics of the government, that it "invades the democratic value of free speech for no adequate public reason", and that it falls foul of the affirmation of freedom of expression in the Bill of Rights Act. Rather than an Australian-style "modernisation", it recommends a full repeal, and argues strongly that where there is a real threat of violence or disorder, other existing offences can be used which do not impinge on democratic freedoms:

As long as the New Zealand sedition offences remain on the statute book there is the potential for their misuse against people who criticise the Government publicly, especially at times of civil unrest and of perceived concern for national security. it is not appropriate to modernise or clarify the provisions; nor is it necessary to do so. Prosecutions for incitement to commit various existing public order and other offences should adequately suffice to proscribe what are presently labelled "seditious offences", to the extent that such conduct should be a crime.

The question now is whether the government will follow the recommendation, or ignore it. Hopefully we'll find out in the near future.


Well, at least Palmers' being consistent. Is the report online?

Posted by Lewis Holden : 4/05/2007 03:36:00 PM