29 October 2007
The police decision to refer evidence from their so-called “anti-terror” activities to the Attorney General is deeply disturbing. (The Attorney General has delegated to the Solicitor General)
If the police believe they have evidence of breaches of the law then they can lay charges under any number of legal provisions. Instead they have chosen to pursue charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.
Behind this decision is the deeply political need to justify the huge extra resources and wide legislative powers the police and Security Intelligence Service have been given since 2001. They have to find terrorists. Uncovering criminal activity is not enough for these “wannabe terrorist fighters”.
What the police are now doing is charging political activists under a law which would have made many of the civil disobedience protests from 1981 into “terrorist activities”. Activities such as the 40 people sitting on Rotorua airport runway, the invasion of the pitch in Hamilton and the blocking of the Harbour Bridge could all qualify.
(The Terrorism Suppression Act defines a terrorist as someone who, for political reasons, causes “serious disruption to an infrastructure facility, if likely to endanger human life…” This catch-all definition underlines the danger of these laws.)
Meanwhile Attorney General Michael Cullen’s decision to delegate the responsibility for deciding charges to the Solicitor General is conveniently cowardly. This Terrorism Suppression Act is the Labour government’s law with the provision inserted by Labour for the Attorney General to approve terrorism charges. Cullen is now ducking for cover.
He wasn’t so shy late last year when he intervened at a moment’s notice to quash attempts to bring alleged Israeli war criminal Mosche Ya’alon (“the butcher of Qana”) to justice.
Cullen ordered the abandonment of the arrest warrant issued against Ya’alon by Auckland District Court Judge Avinash Deobhakta. Earlier Deobhakta had found there were “good and sufficient reasons” for the New Zealand police to arrest Ya’alon.
To now pretend somehow that he should leave the decision to law experts is gutless. Cullen will be the subject of protest at the Labour Party conference this coming weekend.
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