Ram Raids Bill Oral Submission

These are the speaking notes for our submission to the Justice Committee on 12 March, 2024. See our written submission.

The New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties is a little confused as to why this Committee has been asked to examine this bill. The Attorney General has decided that this bill can not be justified in a free and democratic society.  That’s a serious condemnation from a trusted source. An adverse Bill of Rights Act Section 7 report ought to be enough to stop any bill at first reading. 

The Council agrees that this bill transgresses against the rights of children, freedom of expression, and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. 

The Council joins over a hundred other submissions calling for this bill to be rejected, from the Bar Association, the Law Society, the Privacy Commissioner, and the Human Rights Commission, amongst others. In hopes of not covering precisely the same grounds as the other presenters, this oral submission will focus on those who did not submit.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is strangely silent on this bill, given that it transgresses against our international commitments.  This bill obviously transgresses:

  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • The Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • The Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice; and
  • The Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency

UN Committees also do not submit to select committees of member states.  A number of them will deem this bill to be harmful to New Zealand.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child have already criticised us, saying that they were ‘seriously concerned’ that ‘[t]he minimum age of criminal responsibility is below international standards and is offence-based rather than child-centred’. 

The committee for the Convention Against Torture would also advise us against this bill.  In last year’s 7th period report they recommended that we “Raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to align with international standards;”

This bill is not only opposed by New Zealanders.  It is opposed internationally, and the Council urges the committee to reject this bill for the harm it will cause to our international reputation. A reputation which is self-evidently more important than the aims of this bill.

Finally, this would not be a submission from the Council for Civil Liberties without a mention of the Hansen test, used to evaluate the impact of law on civil liberties.  I’ll address each section of the Hansen test in turn.

Section (A) does the limiting measure serve a purpose sufficiently important to justify curtailment of the right or freedom?

The Council categorically rejects the notion that these limitations are mechanisms towards outcomes which are important enough to justify the limitations.  We do not even believe that the limitations are mechanisms toward any positive outcome at all.  To paraphrase, we do not believe that this bill will work.

Section (b) (1) is the limiting measure rationally connected with its purpose?

The Council does not believe that the clauses 8 & 9, about bodily samples, clause 13 about 12 year old children, or clauses 12, 14, and 21 to 23, about free speech, are rationally connected to the purpose of the bill. Neither collecting DNA from children nor imprisoning children will deter crime.  And videos of crimes help to catch those responsible, so censoring that speech would increase crime. 

Section b(2) does the limiting measure impair the right or freedom no more than is reasonably necessary for sufficient achievement of its Purpose?

The Council believes that, to the extent it is credible to imagine this bill being effective at all, that the bill will be equally effective without clauses 8, 9 and 13, and more effective without clauses 12, 14, and 21 to 23.

Section b(3) is the limit in due proportion to the importance of the objective?

Finally, the Council does not believe that Ram Raids are important.  The problem is already fixed. The novelty has worn off.  So no limit on our liberties can be justified.  

This terrible bill belongs to the previous government. This Committee has no obligation to recommend this bill.  The Council urges the committee to kill this bill.