New Zealand PM apologizes for mosque attacks ‘failings’



New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Adern on Tuesday apologized for failings in the lead-up to the 2019 Christchurch terrorist attacks, as a royal commission made recommendations to prevent such attacks in the future, report agencies.

Brenton Tarrant, an Australian white supremacist, killed 51 people and injured 40 more at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre on March 15, 2019. He was sentenced to life in prison this August without the possibility of a parole.

The findings of a royal commission inquiry, which was formed to find out whether the attack could have been prevented, were presented in parliament.

The 792-page report, which took about 18 months to compile, has identified deficiencies in the firearms licensing system, as well as “inappropriate concentration of resources” on the part of security agencies.

It has made a list of recommendations, including changes to how firearms are managed, establishing a new national intelligence and security agency and a proposal for the police to better identify and respond to hate crimes.

“The commission made no findings that these issues would have stopped the attack. But these were failings nonetheless and for that I apologize,” Jacinda Ardern said after the release of the report.

She said that in order to ensure all New Zealanders are safer, the government has agreed in principle with all 44 recommendations contained in the report.

“Muslim New Zealanders should be safe. Anyone who calls New Zealand home, regardless of race, religion, sex or sexual orientation should be safe.”

The premier announced the creation of a new Ministry for Ethnic Communities, and launching the Ethnic Communities’ Graduate Programme “to ensure greater diversity in our policy work and decision making,” and the New Zealand Police programme, Te Raranga, The Weave, “to make improvements in police’s frontline practice to identify, record, and manage hate crime, and deliver a service that is more responsive to victims.”

She said the government will increase the capacity of the Human Rights Commission by increasing its funding, and continue working to update the current hate speech legislation as well as the Terrorism Suppression Act.

Ardern said a multi-agency Response Steering Group has been set up to provide a report on the implementation of the recommendations.

Earlier, the government had reformed its gun laws, and banned military-style semi-automatic weapons as well as parts that could be used to build prohibited firearms.

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