The Royal Commission welcomes a Government decision to extend the inquiry deadline to 31 July 2020, allowing for delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch Mosque attacks has been affected by the pandemic and Alert Level 4 lockdown, at a time when individuals and organisations across New Zealand and the globe are dealing with extraordinary challenges.
Like all those who can work safely under Alert Level 4, the inquiry team has been working remotely, to progress work on an authoritative, final report.
“While everyone at the Royal Commission is very much committed to getting the job done, there are considerable limitations to what can be achieved remotely,” says Commissioner Sir William Young.
“One of the main limitations we face is that we cannot access some parts of our draft report which are currently stored on a secure and classified network,” says Sir William.
The Royal Commission is also in a natural justice process which includes seeking comment on adverse findings, seeking consent to the use of quotes, fact checking and classification matters.
“As a part of that process we have sought feedback from hundreds of individuals and organisations named in the draft report,” says Commissioner Jacqui Caine.
“Some of the individuals and organisations we have sent material to, have understandably had to divert attention and resources to Covid-19 work. In addition, we have not been able to complete our natural justice process in respect of those parts of our draft report that are on the secure and classified network.”
The Royal Commission is therefore expecting some delays in these responses, which are vital to the natural justice process.
Commissioners sought an extension to the 30 April 2020 reporting deadline and the Government has now confirmed a new date of 31 July 2020.
Along with other New Zealanders, the Royal Commission will continue to keep a close eye on Government announcements regarding lockdown levels, with each level having a different impact on the work programme.