Dec 8, 2020 - World

New Zealand PM apologizes for failings identified by inquiry into Christchurch attack

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks  ahead of the release of the inquiry into the Terrorist Attack on Christchurch Mosques at Parliament on December 08, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to reporters in Wellington, New Zealand, Tuesday, just before the release of the inquiry findings on the Christchurch mosques terrorist attack. Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and New Zealand security agencies apologized Tuesday to those affected by last year's shootings at two Christchurch mosques after an inquiry found failings in the lead-up to the terrorist attack.

Why it matters: The attack by a white supremacist was one of the biggest mass killings by a single gunman and the worst in New Zealand's modern history. It prompted governments and tech companies to sign on to an agreement to reduce violent extremist content online after the terrorist broadcast the shootings on Facebook Live.

Details: The 792-page Royal Commission of Inquiry report examined the role of New Zealand's security and intelligence agencies in the lead-up to the March 15, 2019 shootings, which killed 51 people.

  • The inquiry found that a focus of counter-terrorism resources on the threat of Islamist extremist terrorism to be "inappropriate."
  • "New Zealand authorities have focused their counter-terrorism resources almost exclusively on Muslim communities in New Zealand," an academic said in a submission, per Newshub.
  • "New Zealand authorities appear to have been institutionally blind to terror threats from white nationalist and far right actors and groups, and threats to Muslim communities in particular."
  • The government said in an emailed statement it has agreed "in principle to implement all 44 recommendations contained in the Royal Commission of Inquiry."

What they're saying: "The Royal Commission found no failures within any Government agencies that would have allowed the individual's planning and preparation to have been detected but did identify many lessons to be learnt and significant areas needing change," Ardern said in an emailed statement Tuesday.

  • "For many years, the Muslim community has raised concerns over issues like the disproportionate scrutiny by security and intelligence agencies. This report confirms there was an 'inappropriate concentration of resources'. It also identifies failings within the firearms licensing system.
"The commission made no findings that these issues would have stopped the attack. But these were both failings nonetheless and for that I apologize."

Read the report, via DocumentCloud:

Go deeper