Terrorism bill fraught with risk for academics

Posted By TEU on Nov 26, 2014 |

Academics studying terrorism, or other topics that the SIS considers not to be in the national interest, could be among those who lose civil rights if an ‘anti-terrorism’ bill becomes law.

TEU, the union representing tertiary education staff, says the bill is flawed and it gives unwarranted powers to security agencies – powers that could be used to spy on academics.

The University of Victoria’s Dr Sandra Grey says the bill could have a chilling effect not just on some academics’ willingness to speak out publicly, but it could also limit the type of research and teaching they are willing to undertake.

Dr Grey researches the silencing effect government policy can have on people’s participation in democracy.

Professor Richard Jackson, Deputy Director at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, says not only does the bill contradict existing academic research on effective counterterrorism measures, but it will potentially impede much-needed research into countering violent extremism. In particular, it will negatively affect Muslim students and staff, he says.

Sadly, this bill is likely to be counterproductive to the government’s stated goals of increasing long-term security for New Zealand.

Professor Jackson is a leading scholar in the field of critical terrorism studies.

Massey University’s Associate Professor Jeff Sluka says the bill is completely unnecessary legislation.

“The police and the SIS already have extensive powers. The proposed powers are draconian. The government has given no evidence to justify why we need the changes. If instituted, these powers will put a pall over young academics, discouraging them from studying political violence.”

Associate Professor Sluka studies state terror and armed independence movements around the world.

The University of Canterbury’s Dr David Small says serious questions remain unanswered about what information about New Zealanders is shared with overseas intelligence agencies.

“The New Zealand public has a right to expect that its security and intelligence agencies will act within the law, and that those in charge of these agencies will exercise proper oversight and not abuse their position. Until then, there should be no increase in the powers or resources of these agencies.”

Dr Small’s research areas include civil liberties, the rule of law and the war on terror.

Thank you to the U.S. Army @ Flickr for the photo of the US Military in Afghanistan https://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/4152545523/


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