Christchurch Terrorist Attack: Jacinda Ardern orders royal commission of inquiry amidst debate on free speech

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday ordered a Royal Commission of Inquiry into this month’s terror attack on two mosques in Christchurch that killed 50 Muslim worshippers.

Jacinda Ardern

Speaking to reporters, Ardern said, “I do want to say that Royal Commissions are usually reserved for matters of the gravest public importance and it is clearly the appropriate form of inquiry for this incident.”

She said that she too had been seeking answers to several questions around the ghastly terror attack on Christchurch mosques. “While New Zealanders and Muslim communities around the world are both grieving and showing compassion for one another, they are also quite rightly asking questions on how this terror attack was able to happen here,” she said.

Ardern added, “This includes questions around the accessibility of semi-automatic weapons, the role social media has played generally and the focus of the intelligence and security services.”

The New Zealand prime minister went on to add that no stone will be ‘left unturned to get to the bottom of how this act of terrorism occurred and what, if any, opportunities we had to stop it.’

Speaking in the parliament last week, Ardern had announced a change in gun laws that banned the sale of military style semi-automatic weapons in the country. She had also emphatically said that the terrorist, identified as Australian national Brendon Terrant, will not be named in her speech because she was not prepared to fulfill his objective of achieving notoriety.

Ardern is expected to travel to China next week but has cut down her stay abroad to just one day in view of the terrorist attack.

Meanwhile, the chief censor in New Zealand has banned the access to manifesto released by Terrant. Anyone found to be in possession or sharing can be jailed for up to 14 years. This has triggered a debate on free speech in New Zealand. Free Speech Coalition spokesperson and lawyer, Stephen Franks said most New Zealanders will have no interest in reading the ‘rants of an evil person,’ but they need to ‘be able to understand the nature of evil and how it expresses itself.’

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