Saturday, December 4

Outdated New Zealand Counter Terrorism Legislation – Legal Experts

The LynnMall terror attack started a nationwide conversation about New Zealand’s counterterrorism laws.

Currently, Parliament has before it legislation that would criminalize planning a terrorist attack.

The anti-terrorism legislation bill was introduced earlier this year as part of the ongoing response to the attacks on the Christchurch mosque, including a new definition of what constitutes a “terrorist act.”

Police at LynnMall, New Lynn, Auckland - September 4, 2021

LynnMall police in Auckland the day after the terrorist attack.
Photo: RNZ / Jean Bell

A man, on a terror watch list, injured six shoppers with a knife in Countdown on LynnMall. The police shot him dead shortly after. There are six people in the hospital, three in critical condition.

The removal of the man’s name has been reversed, but his name cannot yet be released as the High Court is giving his family at least 24 hours to request new removal orders.

Today, in RNZ’s special coverage of the attack, we heard from legal experts, a politician, the Muslim community and witnesses from the scene of the attack.

University of Otago law professor Andrew Geddis told Kim Hill on the show that if the bill passed, it would be “a major expansion of New Zealand criminal law.”

“It would be saying that you are guilty of thinking about doing something, without going out and starting to do it, but even thinking about doing it would be a crime for which you could go to jail for up to seven years.”

The law

Geddis said the proposed legislation would not necessarily have made a difference in this case.

Professor Andrew Geddis

Andrew Geddis, a law professor at the University of Otago.
Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

“However, the key point regarding this argument is that, ‘oh, if we only had this crime of’ preparation for a terrorist or crime ‘on the books, we could have stopped it’, that is not the case.”

He said the man was also convicted on more serious charges that carried a longer sentence of 10 years than the proposed law that carries a seven-year sentence.

Police on duty at the Masjid-E-Bilal mosque in Glen Eden, west of Auckland - September 4, 2021

Police on duty at the Masjid-E-Bilal mosque in Glen Eden, west of Auckland.
Photo: RNZ / Jean Bell

Geddis said the man was placed under a supervision sentence and a whole series of conditions to try to get him out of the way he was going, but the police decided to monitor him independently.

“It’s not entirely true that the law couldn’t deal with this guy, they caught him, charged him, actually convicted him of a more serious crime.

“It’s just that in the sentence [in July 2021] the judge decided that it was important to try to rehabilitate him and issued a judgment of supervision; that’s why he was in the community.

“Then the police independently assessed him as such a high risk that they put him under very strict surveillance. As it turned out, he was.”

John Battersby, a specialist in terrorism and counterterrorism at Massey University, said New Zealand’s terror laws were out of date.

He said that no law was guaranteed to stop attacks like yesterday’s, but laws should make such attacks as difficult as possible.

Battersby said New Zealand was reluctant to make laws on terrorism dating back to the Rainbow Warrior attack.

“We are definitely a reluctant legislator when it comes to terrorism.”

He noted that the laws had not changed more than two years after the Christchurch attacks.

Police at the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch.

Police presence at the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch today.
Photo: RNZ / Belinda McCammon

National Party ready to urgently promote terrorism bill

Judith Collins said she texted the prime minister to tell him that National would support the passage of the terrorism bill that was “stuck on a select committee” in the House.

“You discover that there is a gap once you have a situation like this. This man will not be the only person the authorities are keeping a close eye on.

“Thank goodness the special tactics group was following him because there could be more people injured or killed in this situation.”

Collins also wants a law change to strip people of their New Zealand citizenship or residency if they commit a violent crime in the country.

‘Land of the long and safe cloud’: Muslim community rallies in favor of victims

Anjum Rahman, Deputy Coordinator of the Council of Islamic Women

Anjum Rahman, spokesperson for the Council of Islamic Women.
Photo: RNZ / Luke McPake

The president of the Federation of Islamic Associations, Abdur Razzaq, said the attack had resurrected the trauma and sadness of the March 15 terror.

He said they were praying for the victims and thanked police for their courage, along with ambulance and hospital personnel, acknowledging that in “this time of Covid, it is another layer of pressure.”

He said there was no place for hate mongers, in what he called “the land of the long and safe cloud.”

Islamic Women’s Council spokeswoman Anjum Rahman said that with the experience of March 15, and knowing the widespread trauma it caused, “we are really looking forward to it. [the victims] get ahead.”

The Canterbury Muslim Association, which runs the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, created a Givealittle page to raise funds for the victims of yesterday’s attack. They have raised almost $ 10,000 in the last day.

Witnesses describe the scene

It was a panic scene as word quickly spread about the attack on LynnMall Countdown yesterday.

Michelle Miller was on her way to do her weekend tent when she saw “a guy running attacking people.”

“It was absolutely horrible. I feel sorry for the Countdown staff… for the people who were injured, my prayers go out to them.

“The police have done an incredible job. They let the guy try to turn himself in, but he didn’t.

Police at LynnMall, New Lynn, Auckland - September 4, 2021

LynnMall was cordoned off by police a day after the attack.
Photo: RNZ / Jean Bell

Anya was in a pharmacy inside the mall when the attack occurred.

“I just found out that someone was stabbed and then I had like six or seven shots.

“I could just share people at the Chemist Warehouse yelling that someone was stabbed and then like a group of security people they started approaching the area and then I heard gunshots and it was very chaotic.

“Everyone who was waiting there ran to the pharmacy, hiding in the little rooms.”

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