No ‘single’ sign could have averted Christchurch attack

New Zealand has released an almost 800-page report into the March 2019 killing of 51 Muslim worshippers at two mosques in the city of Christchurch and concluded that authorities could not have been alerted of an imminent attack.

“No single aspect of it could have alerted public sector agencies to an impending terrorist attack,” the Royal Commission report said on Tuesday.

The report, however, took issue with Christchurch authorities for deploying “an inappropriate concentration of resources” in probing religious violence in the country, distracting them from other possible threats such as that of white supremacists, the commission also concluded.

The inquiry was formed to look into the response of the authorities and to determine whether the attack could have been prevented.

“Ultimately, this roughly 800-page report can be distilled into one simple premise: Muslim New Zealanders should be safe. Anyone who cause New Zealand harm regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, should be safe,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday following the release of the report.

“New Zealanders deserve a system that does its best to keep you safe, and that’s what we are committed to building.”

“I absolutely appreciate the community will want to see accountability in terms of implementation. They will want to see who is responsible for coordinating some of those efforts … and we will be providing that,” Ardern told a regular media briefing.

The report took about 18 months to finish and contains interviews with hundreds of people including security agencies, Muslim community leaders, international experts and officials in England, Norway and Australia, as well as with Ardern.

Ardern received global praise for her compassionate response to the attack and for swiftly banning the sale of the high-capacity semi-automatic weapons used in the attack. She also launched a global movement against online hardline views.

However, authorities were criticised for ignoring repeated warnings from the Muslim community that hate crimes against them were escalating, and that security agencies were failing to record such crimes.

Ardern met family members of the victims and some survivors on Sunday and promised immediate action on the royal commission report, but said some recommendations may take time to implement.

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