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New Zealand steps closer to tighter terrorism laws after supermarket knife attack By Reuters


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO A pedestrian strolls past New Zealand’s parliament building called the Beehive. This photo was taken July 3, 2017 in Wellington, New Zealand. Picture taken July 3. 2017. REUTERS/David Gray

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand’s parliament took a step closer on Tuesday to making it easier to arrest and prosecute terrorists planning attacks, just weeks after an Islamic State-inspired assault by a knife-wielding assailant wounded seven people at a supermarket.

Second reading of the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill was passed by parliament. The ruling Labour Party, the National Party, and other main opposition parties voted in favor. Smaller parties like the Greens voted against it.

Once it passes a third reading of the bill (an amendment to the 2002 Terrorism Suppression Act, and related laws), it will be adopted.

According to the government, the bill addresses a significant gap in law and criminalizes planning or preparation of terrorist acts. This change was long supported by the enforcement agencies.

Police can now use warrantless search, entry and surveillance powers to stop terrorist planning or preparations. The law criminalises terrorist-related weapons and combat training.

Justice Minister Kris Faafoi stated that the new legislation will bring New Zealand closer to laws in other countries, such as Australia, Britain, and Canada.

Faafoi stated that the legislation brings New Zealand in line with other countries’ laws and helps to strengthen our laws against terrorist organizations.

Jacinda Adern, the Prime Minister, promised to increase counter-terrorism laws within the next month. This was in response to the Sept 3 knife attack that took place at an Auckland shopping mall. Police shot the man dead. He was inspired by Islamic State militants and was under constant surveillance by security staff after his release from prison.

The terrorist attack was the second in the country since the march 2019 massacre of 51 Muslims in Christchurch by a white supremacist, which left many others injured and killed.

Critics argue that the government passed the bill quickly without sufficient debate, and that it risks creating legislation that may further damage marginalised communities.

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