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New Zealand Counter Terrorism Bill second reading

The Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill in New Zealand has returned to Parliament for its second reading in an important step towards giving enforcement agencies greater power to protect New Zealanders from terrorist activity.

The Bill seeks to clarify the definition of a terrorist act and introduce the new offence of planning and preparing for a terrorist act. The Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill also includes the ability to apply warrantless powers of entry, search, and surveillance to stop the planning and preparation of a terrorist act, and more clearly criminalises weapons training or combat training for terrorist purposes.

The government in New Zealand is further seeking to pass law that criminalises travel to, from, or via New Zealand where the intention is to carry out a serious offence under the Terrorism Suppression Act; and extend terrorism finance offences to also criminalise providing wider forms of support to terrorist individuals or groups, such as goods and services.

Justice Minister Kris Faafoi said: “The Bill addresses longstanding gaps in our counter terrorism legislation that seek to protect New Zealanders and make us safer. The Bill incorporates public input at select committee including a recommended change to the definition of a terrorist act to include the intention to intimidate, rather than to induce terror, as is defined in the current law.

“The major gap the legislation will address is to add the criminal offence of planning or preparation for a terrorist act. Police and others have long recommended this change to close a hole in our legislation to help prevent terrorist attacks before they occur. Again, this is a change which bring us into line with laws in other countries and strengthens our laws to fight the changing nature of terrorism; where we are seeing more threats from lone actors rather than terrorist organisations.

“New Zealand has been victim to these sort of attacks; both in Christchurch and, just earlier this month, with the knife attack at a West Auckland supermarket. I want to acknowledge the trauma of the victims, families and communities affected by those terrorist attacks. They are reminders of how crucial it is to have laws which provide the tools we need to act early to prevent and disrupt terrorist activity.”

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