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Tanczos calls for inquiry on police abuse of power

19 July 2001

Tanczos calls for inquiry on police abuse of powers

Green Party Justice Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos today called on the Police Commissioner to issue a directive to all police officers in New Zealand to refrain from abusing the emergency search provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Nandor was responding to the admission by Police Association president Greg O'Connor at the health select committee inquiry into cannabis yesterday that the Misuse of Drugs Act gave police the power to stop and search people arbitrarily.

"I am also writing to the chair of the Justice and Electoral Select Committee to initiate an inquiry into past abuse of police powers when searching under the emergency provisions of Section 18 of the Misuse of Drugs Act," he said.

Mr O'Connor was challenged in the select committee by Nandor when he stated that the police do not pursue cannabis offences but only charge people for cannabis when they find it in the course of other business. Nandor has been searched numerous times without just cause.

Mr O'Connor said that he had probably been searched in the past because his appearance could have led police officers to believe he was carrying a knife.

Nandor said today that this was a serious abuse of police powers.

"Mr O'Connor has admitted that police abuse the emergency powers of search provided in the Misuse of Drugs Act and that they target people because of how they look. This supposed to be a free country and the police should be there to protect people, not harass those they don't like the look of."

"Let's be clear, not all police behave this way but some certainly do."

"My complaints about illegal searches in the past went nowhere. Now that we are looking at a new Independent Police Complaints Authority I will asking for a re-examination of an illegal search on me in the past".

"I invite people of New Zealand who have experience with inappropriate searches under the Misuse of Drugs Act to write to me c/o Parliament, Wellington, no stamp needed."

ENDS


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