Statement on the Coordinated Review of the LynnMall Supermarket Attacker

Dec. 14, 2022

Today the Inspector-General of Intelligence, the Independent Police Conduct Authority and the Office of the Inspectorate released a joint review of the management of the LynnMall supermarket attacker in the years leading up to the tragic events of 3 September 2021.

Te Mana Whakaatu – Classification Office wishes to acknowledge the ongoing impact the attack has had on the victims, survivors, witnesses, whānau and emergency responders who were involved. As the report highlights, this was a very difficult and complex case involving a number of agencies. We owe it to those affected to learn from these events and improve our ability to decrease the risk posed by violent extremism.

One of the Office’s roles in the classification system is to assess material submitted to us by enforcement agencies and the courts to determine whether it is objectionable under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993. The Office takes this role very seriously; the issues involved are complex, and the consequences are serious. Under the law, possession and distribution of objectionable material carries a high penalty, with jail sentences of up to 14 years possible.

The Office considers how the New Zealand public might be harmed by a given publication. Under New Zealand law, the threshold for making a publication objectionable is a high one. Classification is a balancing act between protecting New Zealanders from harm, and protecting our freedom of expression.

Only the exceptionally harmful publications are banned. These are publications that promote or support extreme violence or extreme cruelty, or that encourage and instruct acts of crime and terrorism.

In accordance with our legislative obligations, the systems we have in place ensure that our decisions are both comprehensive and made in a timely manner. Natural justice requires that we allow interested parties, including defendants, to make submissions. In some cases we consult with experts and representatives from affected communities when making a classification decision. That is what we did in this case.

Since the Christchurch Mosque attacks, the Office has created a Countering Violent Extremism team. We have built up a significant body of knowledge in recent years to inform our decisions in this area, which has enabled us to respond promptly. Our agency training and pre-submission consultation processes enable us to work more closely with enforcement agencies so that potentially objectionable material can be identified and referred to us earlier.

In the interests of transparency, we have linked the relevant decisions below. Please note that the decisions include discussion of distressing content.

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