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Students To Take Legal Action Over Arrests

VUWSA web site Students arrested at a protest in parliament grounds during 1997 are commencing legal action against the police for wrongful arrest. A recent judgement by the High Court permanently stayed prosecutions against the protesters, stating that while the Speaker had a right to remove protesters from parliament in some circumstances, he must ensure that the rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Bill of Rights Act were limited only to the extent that was reasonably necessary.

Spokesperson for the group Chris Hipkins said there were two main issues of concern to the students. The first was that they were unnecessarily removed from parliament grounds in the first place, "Having watched hours and hours of police video footage, the District Court stated that it was a peaceful protest and there was no need to arrest us," Hipkins said.

The second area of concern to the students was the treatment the protesters received once they were in police custody. "Some students were there from 2pm in the afternoon until breakfast time the following day. Others were released onto the street in the middle of the night," Hipkins said.

"Many students were denied their rights to make a phone call, with many of the students flatmates, parents or partners becoming worried when they had not heard from them by 7pm that night. Students sat on cold concrete floors with no food until cold MacDonalds arrived at around 10.30pm,"

Hipkins said some of the individual complaints students had included being denied access to tampons, having a necklace removed with a large knife, having the cord removed from their trousers, and being denied access to a lawyer.

"But the main issue remains that students should never have been put in this position in the first place. It was a peaceful protest and the police got far too carried away, they were way out of line," Hipkins said.


--ENDS--


For further information contact:
Chris Hipkins, Education Vice-President
Phone 473 8566 (ext 830) or (025) 28 77 51
Email: chris.hipkins@vuw.ac.nz


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