Review of foreign fighters security settings to begin

  • John Key
Prime Minister National Security and Intelligence

Cabinet today approved the Terms of Reference for a review of settings in relation to foreign terrorist fighters, says Prime Minister John Key.

“Foreign fighters taking part in, or returning from any sort of conflict zone are a concern for many countries,” says Mr Key.

“Our intelligence agencies are aware of the risk and are focused on addressing it.

“We know that a small number of New Zealanders have travelled overseas to engage in the fighting. We’re also aware of people within New Zealand who have a desire to travel and fight for the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).

“Although the number of New Zealanders in these situations is modest compared with the actual numbers of our partners, they are significant relative to New Zealand’s size.

“And they do represent a change in the New Zealand context.

“Our national threat level has been increased by officials from Very Low to Low, which means that where previously the threat of a terrorist attack was assessed as unlikely, it is now assessed as possible but not expected.

“The threat level is still below our partner countries but it’s important to note that from time to time we see specific threats emerge that we deal with on a case by case basis.

“In light of the rapidly evolving environment Cabinet has directed officials to review our settings in relation to how we deal with the foreign fighter threat.

“As a Government we have a responsibility to ensure that our settings are adequate to respond to the threat, and we must also assess how our settings compare with our partners,” says Mr Key.

The targeted review will take four weeks and be led by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

“Without pre-empting the outcome of the review, it is likely to recommend that some urgent changes be made to legislation,” says Mr Key.

“Should that be the case it is my intention to try to build broad Parliamentary support for such legislation, which would likely need to pass before the House rises in December.

“It is my intention that any interim measures we take this year to address the foreign fighters issue be subject to a sunset clause so they will expire if not carried forward by the 2015 statutory review of the intelligence agencies, their legislation and their oversight.

“I have written this afternoon to all Parliamentary Party leaders to offer them a confidential briefing from officials on the issues that the review addresses,” says Mr Key.