2010-02-10 10:28 AM
It is the first time the country has designated terrorist entities not listed as such by the United Nations.
The four are Spain's ETA insurgency Euskadi Ta Askatasuna; Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK; Colombia's FARC leftist guerrilla group; and the Somalia-based Al Shabaab, or Harakat al-Shabaab Mujahideen ("Movement of Warrior Youth").
Prime Minister John Key said designating the groups as terrorist entities reflects the country's commitment to the international campaign against terrorism.
"We are determined (to ensure) New Zealand is not a target of, or source of support for, terrorist activities," Key said in a statement. "These four groups have engaged in a range of terrorist acts including the indiscriminate killing of civilians and assassination of political leaders."
Under New Zealand law, the designation means any assets held by the groups and found in New Zealand either now or in the future will be frozen. It will also be a criminal offense to deal with their property or make property and financial services available to them.
Activities in support of terrorism _ like fundraising, recruiting or providing shelter _ are already criminal offenses whether a group is designated as a terrorist entity or not. The laws carry a maximum 14-year prison sentence upon conviction.
Key said the designations were important to constrain the operations of terrorist groups around the world.
"It would not be in New Zealand's interests to be seen by terrorist groups as an easy place in which to do business," he said.
New Zealand first adopted the tough measures against terrorist groups in November 2001, two months after the terror attacks on the U.S. World Trade Center.
At the time, it designated more than 180 individuals and nearly 80 organizations and entities already designated as terrorist by the U.N.