The Aoteoroa New Zealand Human Rights Lawyers Association (the HRLA) has submitted to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee opposing the passage of the Maritime Crimes Amendment Bill (the Bill) in its current form.
The Bill seeks to amend the Maritime Crimes Act 1999 (the Act) to implement obligations under two maritime counter-terrorism treaties - namely, the Protocol of 2005 to the Rome Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation and the Protocol of 2005 to the Rome Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf - to ensure that the maritime security framework can respond to contemporary transnational terrorist threats.
Anti-terrorism legislation typically targets crimes of a political nature. As such, its terms must be carefully drafted and defined to avoid potentially criminalising forms of political activism, especially those that involve protest or non-violent direct action.
Protests and non-violent direct action have long formed an important part of New Zealand's participatory democracy and political history, from Parihaka to the anti-nuclear protests, to more recent protests against the TPPA.
When peaceful protest and activism are under threat, so too are human rights and civil liberties. It is in this vein that the HRLA opposes the Bill's progression in its current form.
Three key reasons underlie the HRLA's opposition:
- Key terms are undefined or too broadly defined;
- This weakness may unduly restrict citizens’ freedom to protest or take non-violent direct action, which is acknowledged by the right to peaceful assembly under article 20 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the ICCPR), and the right to engage in participatory democracy ‘without unreasonable restrictions’ under article 25 of the ICCPR; and
- In view of the sufficiency of the current Act, the Bill creates a class of offences which the HRLA believes is unnecessary.
For more information, contact:
David Tong/Rosa Polaschek: email@example.com