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Nandor Welcomes Inquiry Into Police Powers

Nandor Welcomes Inquiry Into Police Powers, Warns Against Whitewash

Green Justice Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos today welcomed the Law Commission's inquiry into police search and seizure powers but warned that it would be a waste of time unless the Commission actively got out into the community.

"The people who are most affected by the application of these powers are generally young, poor and/or brown. They are the most alienated from our political and legal systems and the least able to get fair representation through these kinds of processes.

"The people that the Commissioners most need to hear from may not even know what 'making a submission' means. They may be illiterate as well. It will be a sham if the Commission relies on submissions to find out what really happens on the streets of this country," said Nandor.

"If the Commissions doesn't want this to be a whitewash, and I don't think they do, they have to get out onto the marae, they have to hold well-publicised public meetings and they have to promote the inquiry outside the mainstream. It's only by going face to face that they will get any real sense of what is happening."

Nandor also called on the public to participate in the inquiry. He urged people to get copies of the discussion paper released today and make comments on it.

"It is really important that people who have been stopped and searched by police tell the Commission about their experiences. Most judges, lawyers or parliamentarians have never been stopped and searched by police and they have no idea what it feels like or even how often it happens.

"Most New Zealanders would be disgusted to know what really happens on the streets. It won't stop until we start to talk about it openly."

The President of the Police Association Greg O'Connor told a select committee last year that before Nandor became an MP he was stopped and searched under the Misuse of Drugs Act by police because his appearance could have led police to think he was carrying a knife.

"Since Greg O'Connor admitted that police use search and seizure powers in an arbitrary and discriminatory way the Courts have also criticised the way the police use these powers in the recent Fowlie case.

"Not all police officers do so, but my experience is that those who abuse the rights of people have little come-back. I strongly recommend people take part in this Law Commission review," he said.

"Big ups to the Commission for doing this inquiry but it will be a white-wash is they don't get out and talk to the people."

Ends


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