10, Oct, 2002

Terrorism Suppression Bill Undermines Vital Civil Liberties

Category: ECO Inc

The Terrorism Suppression Bill remains far too wide in scope and should be withdrawn for re-drafting says the Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ, ECO.

"The essence of terrorism is violence or threats of violence or harm to human health or the environment, says Cath Wallace, co-chair of ECO. "This Bill goes much further and includes those who may harm the economy or property and "unduly compel or force a government or an international organisation to do or abstain from doing any act".

"This is an unacceptable definition and it will lead to those engaged in protecting communities and environments from large dams for instance, or those engaged in labour protests to come within the definitions of terrorists.

"Intentionally the essential issue is the use or threat of violence. The Bill is out of step with that tradition in that it widens the definition to include economic matters.

"We find ourselves in agreement with both Keith Locke of the Greens and Ken Shirley of ACT in their concerns that the Bill is too wide in its scope.

We can see that those who try to help communities such as those at the Narmada dam in India would be caught in this anti-civil liberty definition. At Narmada, communities and environments are being flooded on a vast scale in the name of economic gain and with the help of certain international banks and other organisations. Clearly those helping the non-violent protests aimed at preventing the state government and the international agencies involved achieving the flooding of thousands of homes would be considered terrorists.

ECO is increasingly dismayed at the erosion of civil liberties in the name of anti-terrorism. Parliament should defend not erode civil liberties - or terrorism really will have won.