The Government has proposed amendments to the Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land)Bill, including proposed new offences applicable in the exclusive economic zone. This opinion finds that the proposed amendments to the Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Bill would breach international law in a number of respects.

1. They would wrongly interfere with the freedom of navigation in that they would apply a 500metre exclusion zone around vessels, whereas UNCLOS only provides for such zones aroundinstallations, and expressly preserves rights of navigation.

2. In providing for criminal penalties for mere interference, including in structure and operations,without requiring violence, acts of violence, damage endangering safe navigation of a ship, orserious interference with the operation of maritime navigational facilities likely to endanger the safenavigation of a ship, they go much further than the SUA Convention provides.

3. They would breach international human rights, in purporting to prohibit legitimate and peacefulforms of demonstration, protest, or confrontation, which has expressly been recognized by theInternational Maritime Organization (IMO), and breach the rights to freedom of expression,peaceful assembly and free association, enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil andPolitical Rights.

4. A consequence of this finding is that the Attorney-General should examine the Bill and indicateto the House when it appears to him that it is inconsistent with the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990,according to s7 of the Act. According to the Cabinet Guidelines, “[s]ufficient time needs to be builtinto the government bill preparation process for adequate consideration of Bill

Download the legal opinion here.