It looks like the government is preparing for the Kiwi Jihadi Mark Taylor to come home.
The hint is in a piece of legislation it’s introduced today, which is aimed at putting controls around returning ISIS fighters like Taylor.
Now the fact that Taylor might come home isn’t a surprise. Last we heard he’s being held in a jail in northern Syria. This is in an area Turkey’s attacking, so there’s every chance that in the chaos of war, he gets out and makes his way back here, or that Turkey rounds him up and demands that we take him back.
That’s not the surprise. What may be a surprise is what’s going to happen to him when he gets back. It doesn’t look like the chances of him going to jail are very high - that is why the government is passing this law.
It’s really hard to prosecute guys like Mark Taylor when they head home. In the UK they’ve got about 400 ISIS fighters and hangers-on who’ve headed back, only about 40 of them have been prosecuted and popped in jail. That’s one in 10.
The reason is it’s just really hard to get evidence out of warzones. How you going to prove these guys committed crimes? You need witnesses, where are you going to get them? Videos, photos; won’t they all be destroyed? DNA evidence; impossible. CCTV; not a thing. All the stuff that a criminal case is built on in a place like NZ is really hard to get hold of in a war zone like Syria.
There are plenty of laws we could try charging him under, but legal experts aren’t convinced all of them are well-written, and the general feeling is prosecution will be tough.
So if he doesn’t go to jail, which seems very possible, this is how the government’s planning to control his life:
- Cutting off internet access
- Preventing association with risky people
- Electronic monitoring
- Twice weekly meetings with cops
- Rehab to deradicalise these people
This is not going to satisfy a lot of New Zealanders. These controls last six years maximum, and come on, if you really want to, you can get around those controls.
So I’d say this should just be a stop gap emergency measure in case he suddenly arrives on our doorstep tomorrow, but we’re going to need more than this. Just the fact that he went to Syria to fight should be enough to put him jail.
So where’s that law?