New Zealand’s Ardern promises new counter-terrorism laws by end of month

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WELLINGTON — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday a legal loophole that allowed an Islamic State-inspired militant who carried out a supermarket attack to remain free would be closed off with new laws by the end of the month.

Police shot dead hamed Aathil Mohamed Samsudeen, 32-year-old Sri Lankan Ahamed Aathil Mohamed Samsudeen moments after he launched his stabbing spree at an Auckland supermarket on Friday.

Samsudeen was known to authorities for about five years and had spent the equivalent of three years in jail over that period for offenses including possession of objectionale materials, possession of dangerous weapons and failing to assist police in exercising search powers.

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Authorities repeatedly tried to keep Samsudeen in prison or deport him, but were stymied by the country’s current laws. Samsudeen was last released from prison in July.

Ardern said a Counter Terror Legislation Bill https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/new-zealand-supermarkets-take-knives-off-shelves-after-extremist-stabbing-2021-09-04 already under review in parliament, which criminalizes planning and preparation that might lead to terror attack, will be expedited.

“We are still working to have that legislation passed before the end of the month,” Ardern said at a news conference.

“The really helpful thing is it has already gone through substantial public consultation so people have already had their say and we haven’t needed to rush that process,” she said. “Now what we will do is go through that procedural process in parliament a little quickly.”

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Samsudeen had fraudulently secured refugee status, Ardern said, and his status as a “protected person” barred his deportation to Sri Lanka.

Amnesty International said Samsudeen’s case involved both civil and criminal proceedings and touched on several international conventions.

“A complex case like this should not be used to make blanket law in the heat of the moment,” said Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand Executive Director Meg de Ronde.

“Especially law that has the potential to harm vulnerable people or restrict civil liberties. Big decisions should not be rammed through during times of crisis.”

Ardern acknowledged that New Zealand had international obligations but said the incident made clear the laws needed to be revised.

(Reporting by Praveen Menon; editing by Jane Wardell)

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