Thursday, May 02, 2013

Going too far

The right to petition the government and communicate with elected representatives is fundamental in a democratic society, and is affirmed in Article 25 of the ICCPR. But the Herald today reports on a case where that right is being abridged as part of someone's bail conditions:

West Coast man Robert Frank Terry, 59, is waiting to stand trial at Greymouth District Court on six charges of threatening to damage property.

He's alleged to have threatened, in letters, Justice Minister Judith Collins, and five others including Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias, West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O'Connor, Ministry of Justice chief executive Andrew Bridgman, and New Zealand Law Society president Jonathon Temm.

As part of his bail conditions, he's not allowed to contact any Members of Parliament, or communicate or attempt to communicate Parliament or anyone working for Parliament, unless he's making submissions to select committees.

This is going too far. It is one thing to restrict contact with the people actually threatened. It is quite another to forbid any communication at all with elected representatives or Parliament as an institution. People's fundamental democratic rights should not be stripped from them simply because they are accused of a crime.