Monday, February 22, 2021

The first test of control orders

Over the weekend we learned that Turkey plans to deport a New Zealand woman and her children who had fled Syria after previously joing the Islamic State. Which means that Andrew Little's tyrannical Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Act 2019 - rammed through under all-stages urgency on the basis of an outright lie that we were about to be flooded with returning terrorists - will probably get its first test. So how will it work?

The woman is a "relevant person" in terms of the Act. Despite not being convicted of any crime, merely being deported on an allegation of terrorism means she qualifies. Which means a court will be able to make various orders restricting her rights. The sticking point for the government is likely to be that the court may only make these orders if she "poses a real risk of engaging in terrorism-related activities", and even then, only those orders which are "necessary and appropriate" to prevent such activities. As so far this person's "support for terrorism" seems to consist solely of being married to the wrong person and living in the wrong place, this may be a difficult bar for the government to meet.

(No doubt the SIS will talk up the threat she poses to justify their abuse of our democracy. But we only have to remember the Ahmed Zaoui case to see how appallingly low their standard of "evidence" is, and how unconvincing it was the moment it encountered the reality check of an actual judge, even with a one-sided procedure designed to prevent it from being challenged. They may find themselves in a similar situation this time, resulting in a similar outcome).

Finally, there's also the absurdity of a law which imposes mandatory name suppression on a person whose identity has already been widely reported and will continue to be available online even if an order is made. Hopefully the court will decide to permit publication rather than promote the absurd position that the entire country must pretend to not know what we already know.