Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill passes into law

Minister of Justice, Kris Faafoi, has welcomed the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill which passed its third reading at Parliament today, giving enforcement agencies greater powers to protect New Zealanders from terrorist activity.

“The Bill strengthens our laws to fight the ever evolving nature of terrorism and closes longstanding gaps in our counter terrorism legislation to better protect New Zealanders,” Kris Faafoi said.

“The new counter terrorism law’s major change is to add the criminal offence of planning or preparation for a terrorist act.

“The Justice Select Committee also fully endorsed 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.

“These changes bring our definition of a terrorist act into line with counter terrorism laws in other countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom, and mean we have the tools we need so we can act early to prevent, respond to, and disrupt terrorist activity.

“The nature of terrorism has changed. Across the world there are more lone actors, rather than larger organised groups; as we saw with the March 15 attack on mosques in Christchurch two years ago, and the attack on shoppers in a West Auckland supermarket earlier this month.

“New Zealand is not immune to this harm, and I want to acknowledge the trauma of the victims, families and communities affected by those terrorist attacks,” Kris Faafoi said.

The Bill amends the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002, and the Search and Surveillance Act 2012 to: 

  • criminalise planning or preparation for a terrorist act (and apply warrantless powers of entry, search, and surveillance to that offence)
  • update the definition of a terrorist act to improve clarity
  • more clearly criminalise weapons training or combat training for terrorist purposes;
  • criminalise travel to, from, or via New Zealand with the intention to carry out an offence under the Terrorism Suppression Act
  • extend the terrorism finance offences to also criminalise providing wider forms of support to terrorist individuals or groups, such as goods and services

“The process for developing this important piece of legislation has been careful and considered. This included the full opportunity for the public to provide their view to the Select Committee. I want to thank those who made submissions on the Bill and the Select Committee for its recommendations,” Kris Faafoi said.

It is expected that the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill, following Royal Assent, will come into effect from 4 October 2021.

Notes:

The Bill also amends the Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Act 2019 so that people who have been convicted and imprisoned for a terrorism-related offence in this country can be eligible for a control order.

The Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill was introduced in April this year and received its first reading and referral to the Justice Committee on 5 May.

It was the Government’s first step towards implementing recommendation 18 of the Royal Commission into the Terrorist Attack on Christchurch masjidain on 15 March 2019.