Barry Soper: Better safe than sorry, even for bumbling Kiwi jihadists

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Thu, 17 Oct 2019, 9:07AM
Isis fighter and 'bumbling Jihadi' Mark Taylor has been languishing in a North Syrian prison.
Isis fighter and 'bumbling Jihadi' Mark Taylor has been languishing in a North Syrian prison.

Barry Soper: Better safe than sorry, even for bumbling Kiwi jihadists

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Thu, 17 Oct 2019, 9:07AM

COMMENT:

Where was Iain Lees-Galloway when he was needed? He surely has the mechanism to deal with the return of Isis fighter and 'bumbling Jihadi' Mark Taylor, who's been languishing in a North Syrian prison.

If he's not released, chances are he'll end up escaping through the rubble, as others have done, and will no doubt make his way back to New Zealand.

He could become a "protected person" with a good argument, that if he returned to his adopted Islamic state he could find himself in a spot of bother.

Seriously though the Government's right to prepare for the return of the likes of Taylor. There's no charge on the statute books for fighting for Isis and anyway, reliable evidence to satisfy a court of the stuff he's been up to would be nigh on impossible to secure a prosecution.

Pity, but the next best thing is having him declared through the High Court as a controlled person, meaning his movements, the use of the internet, who he associates with and the like will be under the surveillance of Big Brother. It's all about diminishing the risk to society and that surely is hard to disagree with that - wrong.

The country's first former refugee to come into Parliament, Golriz Ghahraman, says we don't need the law, our laws are good enough as they stand.

She told the Twittersphere that the Greens won't support it because "outdated American style War on Terror policies that breach human rights, risk criminalising political activists and undermine our criminal processes have no place in Aotearoa today".

Ghahraman explained to journos that there's a real risk of criminalising political activists, like feminists in her home country of Iran who're seen as terrorists. No doubt a reference to the human rights lawyer who was sentenced earlier this year to 38 years in jail and 148 lashes for encouraging women to remove the hijab, the veil that Jacinda Ardern wore is solidarity with Islam after the Christchurch massacre.

No one could ever defend that sort of treatment but it's hard to defend her extrapolation of that when it comes to her Government's bill. She says it contains language that has no place in New Zealand, especially in a post-Christchurch world. Ghahraman reckons it'll rile up fear and anxiety about something that isn't a problem.

On many counts that argument doesn't stack up.

Kiwis would surely be more fearful and anxious if terrorist thugs from war zones are allowed to return without some sort of consequence. And it may not be a problem at the moment but it has the potential and it's the very thing that we should be aware of, and act on, after the Christchurch massacre.

To suggest, as she seems to be, that this country's naive enough to simply accept a despotic country's view of what returning Kiwis have been up to is in itself naive.

The bill's sponsor Andrew Little argues it's better to be safe that sorry and that is hard to argue against.

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