The Weekend Leader - NZ establishes counter-terrorism research centre, scholarships

NZ establishes counter-terrorism research centre, scholarships




New Zealand is establishing a National Centre of Excellence for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism, and offering scholarships to those researching counter-terrorism, social cohesion and equality, the government said on Friday.

The National Centre of Excellence for Preventing and Countering Violence Extremism will be a collaborative organisation based in a New Zealand university or research institute, with the government funding research into the causes of terrorism as part of its ongoing response to the 2019 terrorist attacks on two Christchurch mosques that killed 51 people and injured 40, reports Xinhua news agency.

Andrew Little, lead coordinating minister for Government's Response to the Royal Commission's Report into the Terrorist Attack on the Christchurch Mosques, made the announcement.

Establishing a program to fund independent New Zealand-focused research on the causes of, and measures to prevent, violent extremism and terrorism was one of 44 recommendations made by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the attack.

In June, participants in the first national meeting on countering terrorism and violent extremism discussed the objectives and priorities for the centre.

The government also offers at least 10 scholarships of NZ$15,000 ($10,336) each to master's students researching ways of countering and preventing terrorism, including issues like social cohesion and social equality.

"Work done by the National Centre of Excellence and the scholarship recipients will deepen our understanding of how and why violent terrorism can occur and help us prevent it happening again," Little said.

On Thursday, New Zealand passed a new counter-terrorism law, making it an offence to "plan or prepare to carry out a terrorist act", and bringing the definition of a terrorist act into line with counter-terrorism laws in other countries, including Australia and the UK.

Besides the March 15 Christchurch mosque shootings in 2019, a horrific knife attack occurred at a West Auckland supermarket last month.

The attacker was shot dead by police at the scene after injuring seven people, including three in critical conditions.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed that it was a terrorist attack carried out by an "extremist" who had been known to authorities since 2016.- IANS

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