New Zealand Law Society - Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill introduced

Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill introduced

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Justice Minister Andrew Little has introduced the Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill to Parliament.

The bill introduces a civil regime of control orders to manage and monitor a small number of people who are returning to, or who have arrived in, New Zealand after having engaged in terrorism-related activities overseas.

The legislation would come into force on the day after the date of Royal assent. The control order regime it establishes allows requirements to be imposed on returnees to protect the public from terrorism, to prevent engagement in terrorism-related activities in a country (carrying out terrorism, or facilitating or supporting the carrying out of terrorism), and to support the returnee’s reintegration into New Zealand and rehabilitation.

The control order regime targets individuals ("relevant persons") aged 18 or older, who pose a risk of engaging in further terrorism-related activities and for whom a criminal prosecution for their past terrorism-related activities overseas is not viable because of the significant difficulties associated with securing evidence from overseas jurisdictions (particularly in the context of an ongoing armed conflict).

For example, an order could enable the electronic monitoring of a person’s movements, restrict their access to the Internet and other communication devices except on devices known to and monitored by the Police, prohibit associations with specific people or places, or require the person to report regularly to the Police.

The Act provides a number of examples. It states that an example is "only illustrative" of the provisions to which it relates, and it does not limit those provisions.

The implementation of the order would also be designed to help mobilise the necessary services for returnees’ reintegration (for example, needs assessments, alcohol and drug treatment services, or support into employment). Returnees would be encouraged to participate in programmes that lessen their risk, and this, in turn, could lead to an easing of requirements or discharge of their order.

Orders would be made by the High Court on application by the Commissioner of Police. In making the order, the court must be satisfied that the person is a relevant person (a person who is 18 years old or older, is or may be coming to New Zealand or has arrived in New Zealand, and has engaged in terrorism-related activities in a foreign country or meets other stated criteria).

The court must also be satisfied that the person poses a risk of engaging in further terrorism-related activities and that the requirements the order imposes are necessary and appropriate for stated main and incidental purposes.

Before imposing a requirement, the court must also consider how the condition would affect the returnee’s financial, health, or other personal, circumstances, must consider any other matter the court thinks relevant (for example, whether requirements are justified limits on rights and freedoms in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990), and must comply with relevant limits specified in the Bill.

An interim order operates until a final order is made and served or it is clear that no final order has been applied for or made. A final order can have a maximum duration of up to 2 years, and can be renewed by the court twice if there is evidence that the person still meets the criteria for the final order. No extension of the order would be available past 6 years.

Breaches, without a reasonable excuse, of requirements of an order would be a criminal offence. The offence would be punishable, on conviction, by imprisonment for a term not exceeding 1 year or a fine not exceeding $2,000.

The legislation would not limit or affect the application or operation of the Returning Offenders (Management and Information) Act 2015.

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