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Legislation cracks down on people smuggling


Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

25 February 2002

Government legislation cracks down on people smuggling

Foreign Minister Phil Goff today introduced legislation making smuggling and trafficking of people into New Zealand criminal offences subject to severe penalties.

“The Transnational Organised Crime Bill make those involved in people smuggling liable to prison sentences of up to 20 years and fines up to $500,000.

“The severity of the maximum penalties sends a clear message to those who might be involved in organising or transporting illegal migrants to New Zealand that this country cannot be regarded as a soft target for their criminal activities.

“People smuggling and trafficking has become one of the lucrative international activities for organised crime.

“With annual profits estimated at over US$10 billion the rate of people smuggling has increased.

“Not even New Zealand with its relative geographic isolation is exempt from the effects of this practice.

“The dangers to human life of attempting a sea voyage to New Zealand are not a factor in the calculations of organised crime, which once paid, is careless about whether or not its human cargo arrives at its destination.

“This legislation will allow New Zealand to meet its obligations under, and ratify, the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and its Protocols on the Smuggling of Migrants and Trafficking of Persons.

“The Bill amends the Crimes Act, Immigration Act, Passport Act, Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, Proceeds of Crime Act and the Extradition Act.

“The amendments both create new offences and increase the penalty for existing offences. Other amendments enhance New Zealand’s ability to cooperate internationally to prevent, investigate and prosecute these transnational offences.

“An amendment to the Customs and Excise Act allows customs officers to intercept and detain craft and to arrest without warrant those involved in people smuggling,” Mr Goff said.

Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel said the new legislation will also increase penalties for a number of offences under the Immigration and Passport Acts relating to the practices employed by people smugglers and traffickers.

“These penalties underline how seriously New Zealand takes its role in combating this trade in human misery,” Ms Dalziel said.

ENDS


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