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Justice the victim of Criminal Forfeiture regime

November 23

Justice is the victim of Criminal Forfeiture regime

The Green Party is strongly opposed to the Government’s new Criminal Forfeiture law, with Justice Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos and Human Rights Spokesperson Keith Locke saying it will compromise the standard of justice in New Zealand.

“It is absolutely outrageous that if you are found not guilty in a court of law, the Crown will be able to have another go at you on a lesser standard of proof,” said Nandor.

“To have that second attempt then based on ‘a balance of probabilities’ is worse than double jeopardy. The very idea of ‘a balance of probabilities’ goes against a foundation principle of our justice system, that guilt must be established ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’.”

“The specifics of the proposal will also compromise peoples ability to defend themselves. If your assets are ‘restrained’ how are you supposed to pay your legal bills? How are you going to pay for a lawyer if the Crown has frozen your bank account?

“Mr Goff’s claim that assets can be compromised by ‘lavish defence cases’ is irrelevant. The Government should be concentrating on stopping crime, not protecting their spoils,” said Nandor.

Green Human Rights Spokesperson Keith Locke said it is totally unacceptable and will undermine our justice system if people have their assets taken away from them without them being bought before a court and convicted.

“It also would be very bad for justice itself if the police decide to take a short cut and seize offenders’ assets rather than convicting and imprisoning them,” said Mr Locke.

Nandor: “For Phil Goff to use the amount confiscated by the New South Wales civil forfeiture scheme as an example of a successful program is absurd. The criteria for a good proceeds of crime scheme is how much crime has been reduced, not how much money it has collected. Using Mr Goff’s logic, you would have to conclude that Robert Mugabe has the best mechanism in place because he confiscates a great deal without reference to any court. That is not justice in a country truly operating under the rule of law.”

ENDS

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