Ponderous, dangerous and murky

Immigration NZ's harm team has been using information such as past immigrants' convictions and...
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
We have seen it with Covid and the Ministry of Health. We have seen it for years on immigration.

Now, we see it with the Auckland supermarket terrorist.

The wheels of bureaucracy and the law turn so slowly and so often inadequately.

In 2016, the authorities knew the terrorist was dangerous. Yet there he was at large in Auckland in September 2021 running amok.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern herself was aware of moves to deport him as early as 2018.

She and Deputy Prime Minister Grant Roberston have partly been blaming the fact he was free to roam, albeit under 24-hour surveillance, on a hole in the terrorism law.

This matter is before Parliament and will be fixed soon. National will support the change so that those planning terrorist acts can be found guilty.

Despite these comments, and those from a judge who felt obliged to let the man go free from custody, doubts have been raised about whether the changed law would have made that much difference anyway.

Ms Ardern has said how frustrating it has been that the man had not been deported. Ministers had been seeking advice on how to do so for more than three years.

The man was awaiting an appeal on a deportation order, and the public has been told about his ``protected'' status and that United Nations protocols and international obligations must be followed.

Surely, the safety of New Zealanders has higher priorities compared with the responsibilities that are treated with disdain by much of the world.

In any event, it emerged yesterday that, despite the hand-wringing, it might have been possible to have the appeal heard while the man was in prison.

Even if that was not the case, why was the appeal not heard in July as soon as the man was released?

Further, it seems the man might have been able to be deported as a serious national security risk anyway not just because of alleged fraud on his original 2011 application.

Is that so? Why was that not pursued?

There are unanswered questions and doubts about the laws, the processes and what occurred.

The public was assured at the weekend everything possible under the law was done.

But was it? The picture was murkier by yesterday.

The courts and the law generally are riddled with delay, including, it would seem, the refugee appeal process.

In this case, the maxim justice delayed is justice denied became justice delayed imperils public safety.

For all the talk about holes in the terror laws and despite the questions about whether the Mental Health Act should have been used, surely this man should simply have been deported.

Were those asked for options too inflexible?

Are our systems, our appeals, our legal processes too slow and cumbersome and lacking in urgency?

Is New Zealand also too much a soft touch?

Do our bureaucrats and lawyers revel in the legal and administrative complexities, legal opinions and their own importance as part of the system?

New Zealand needs fair and humane policies and processes.

We do not want to be heartless like Australia.

But that does not trump the need for prompt, hard-headed action.

At least, the authorities opted for tight-as-possible surveillance.

New Zealand will always be in danger from lone wolves. As a free society, we will always have vulnerability.

But sadly, in this case, we need not have been at such peril; after all, the basic rationale for having a state is its capacity to remove such a blatant threat to the public.

Inquiries into what did and did not happen and what could and could not have taken place are appropriate.

That is as it should be as this country tries to prevent something similar from reoccurring.

It is simply unacceptable, however, that the Government was unsuccessful after spending more than four years trying to deport this man.

Comments

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An interesting and thought provoking analysis.
You ask if nzers safety is more important than an individuals rights under UN protocols and international obligations that much of the world ignores. Yet you go on to say that we need fair and humane policies and procedures. These are derived from the very UN protocols and guidelines you criticise.
We voluntarily sign up to these UN protocols, they are not imposed on us. The fact that we have signed up to them is why NZ is usually in the top countries rated for individual rights and freedoms in the world. Some countries don’t sign up to them, like USA who have declined to sign up to UN world court protocols about arresting and trying USA citizens who commit war crimes.
Also, Some countries won’t trade with countries who don’t sign up to UN protocols.
It’s all fairly complex and once we’ve signed up we’re expected to stick with them, we can’t just cherry to pick to suit ourselves.
So yes, we need to ensure nzers are safe from individuals and groups who would harm us but it does come at a cost around human rights and freedoms

There are many issues concerning the accuracy of the information presented here. The US argued that the ICC had jurisdiction over persons, not nations. The ability of the ICC to prosecute individuals could inhibit US officials from conducting and implementing foreign policy and infringe on US sovereignty. The US is a sovereign nation. The constitution mandates that as a sovereign, independent nation it is governed by the American people. The US government and its elected officials are the only entities capable of enacting laws over the American people. The demand that the US bow to “global Consensus” violates the concept of US sovereignty. They infringe on the US ability to self-govern and violate the US constitution. The founding fathers flatly rejected trying Americans outside American courts. Similarly, the US constitution prohibits subjecting the US and its citizens to “jurisdiction foreign to the constitution”. This is why the US has rejected the Kyoto Accords, the Copenhagen Accords and the UN efforts to implement international taxes. When the US declared independence from the UK it dedicated itself to the principles of liberty, equality, and popular consent.

I admire the US! It will not allow its soldiers or citizens to be tried in the ICC. I wish we had the same privilege here in New Zealand. The UN was established with great intentions. However, the United Nations continues to be hit by an unprecedented wave of fraud, waste, and corruption. Officials at its antifraud investigation unit are overwhelmed by the number of increased inquiries of wrongdoing. NZ gives the UN $53 million dollars each year. That amounts to .29% of the total UN budget, Bankrupt countries like Greece and Venezuela contribute more than New Zealand. Compare that to the US which provides 28% of the total UN budget. I would hope if NZ was providing that level of funding it would want its interests prioritized. What soverign country allows its citizens to be tried in other countries? Altruistic but at the expense of its own citizens?

Thank you for your detailed explanation of my factual comment about the USA not signing up to UN and other international conventions. You have clearly endorsed my point. Signing up to these conventions is voluntary. No country can be compelled to sign up.

You falsely assume that New Zealand is a sovereign nation. New Zealand embraced the concept of global governance a long time ago and hasn't looked back. Since the end of the Second World War, New Zealand has delegated a part of its sovereignty to world international organizations like the UN. This is a common trend for small countries like New Zealand. Globalization has eroded national sovereignty and rendered borders obsolete. In a globalized world economy, governments have no alternative but to adopt neoliberal economic policies of privatization, deregulation, and reductions in public expenditure which is what New Zealand has done. New Zealand has been forced to become a signatory on many of these UN protocols because of its loss of sovereignty. The Human Rights we enjoy are not because of UN Protocols, they are because they are guaranteed by the Human Rights Act. In many ways, our loss of sovereignty has made us less safe. A sad commentary that globalization takes precedence over the safety and wellbeing of New Zealand citizens!

And what facts do you base these rather strange points of view upon.

Totally agree Wanda. Another well articulated truth. Bravo.

Th editorial says it is unacceptable that the government didn't deport this man, but fails to say how they should have done this short of becoming a dictatorship and acting outside of NZ law.

A covid positive person is not allowed to roam freely around yet a known terrorist threat is - they are both deadly viruses.

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