Thursday, September 27, 2007

Suppressing our human rights

The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee has reported back [PDF] on the Terrorism Suppression Amendment Bill. The bill strengthens existing anti-terrorism legislation, but significantly erodes human rights in the process, by repealing the "loophole" which allows people to collect funds "for the purpose of advocating democratic government or the protection of human rights", introducing a draconian system for the designation of terrorist entities which effectively removes any right of appeal, and allowing the use of secret evidence in terrorism trials without even the fig leaf of a "special advocate". While tweaks have been made in various areas - e.g. to ensure that new offences related to nuclear terrorism do not inadvertantly include those protesting against e.g. nuclear shipments through the Tasman Sea - those core features are essentially unchanged. The irony here is that there seems to be absolutely no need for such provisions, there having been no prosecutions under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 since it was passed.

We should not be passing this legislation. Unfortunately, it enjoys the support of both National and Labour, so it will be law by the end of the year.