Holocaust denial should remain legal in NZ

Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:

Posting racist or xenophobic messages on the internet and Holocaust denial could be illegal if New Zealand signs up to a international cyber-crime agreement.

Justice Minister Simon Power and Police Minister Judith Collins yesterday announced a three-year plan to crack down on international organised crime. One proposal involves the Government signing the Council of Europe Cyber Crime Convention, also known as the Budapest Convention.

A protocol of the convention requires nations to make “the dissemination of racist and xenophobic material through computer systems” a crime. It also makes denial or justification of the Holocaust and other verified genocides illegal.

Almost 30 nations have ratified the convention. However, a number – including US, Ireland and Britain – have refused to sign the protocol.

And we should not sign either.

I detest Holocaust deniers. They are inevitably racists and liars. However the response to their lies should be the truth, not censorship.

I can understand that in countries like Austria and Germany, they have unique factors for why they need to criminalise holocaust denial. But in New Zealand, we should should not ban any speech unless it rises to the level of actually inciting violence.

And the same goes for the proposed requirement to make “the dissemination of racist and xenophobic material through computer systems” a crime. As tempting as it would be to get the NZ First website banned, that is wrong. NZ First have the right to promote racist policies, and Labour have the right to promote xenophobic policies on foreign investment. Neither should have to worry about doing so being a crime.

I hope the Government makes clear that any signing of the convention, will not include agreeing to the additional protocol.

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