NZ terror laws to include fear incitement

·2-min read

The New Zealand government is broadening its terror laws following recommendations from the Royal Commission into the Christchurch Mosques attack.

However it cannot say whether the intimidatory act of a bomb scare or placing a pig's head outside a Mosque would fall under a new definition of terror, which includes inciting fear.

On Tuesday, Justice Minister Kris Faafoi introduced changes to suppression, search and surveillance powers to parliament, which he says will give authorities broader ability to fight terror.

"The nature of terrorism is changing," he said.

"We need to ensure New Zealand has laws that can respond to those changes.

"The Royal Commission highlighted the need for offences to cover the preparatory steps a terrorist might take before attempt a terrorist act ... this bill contains offences to close that gap."

Those offences include criminalising terrorism preparations, terrorist weapons and combat training, international travel linked to terrorism and supporting or financing terrorism.

The changes allow for the detention of anyone who has completed jail time for a terror offence if authorities believe they present a risk of further terror offences.

Mr Faafoi said the new laws would not have stopped the 2019 attack, when Australian man Brenton Tarrant stormed two mosques and killed 51 worshippers.

However it is likely he would have been charged with several new offences after the murders.

Tarrant is currently serving his term of life imprisonment without parole in Auckland.

A key change in the new law is the definition of terror.

This will now include acts that induce fear, where the motivation was ideological, political or religious.

Mr Faafoi couldn't say whether that would include things like bomb scares or the placement of pig's heads outside Mosques, which has happened in New Zealand.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said "we're very careful ... to make sure for, instance, protest is not covered by this framework".

During last year's successful election campaign, the Labour party also promised to bring in hate speech and hate crimes laws.

Mr Faafoi said those changes were unlikely until the second half of next year.

"That is going to be a longer piece of work. We have to make sure that we're engaged with nearly every facet of the community," he said.

Ms Ardern's government agreed in principle to the 44 recommendations in the Royal Commission.