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Government urged to take tool of torture seriously

Harawira urges Government to take the 'tool of torture' seriously

Hone Harawira, Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau

Tuesday 27 November 2007

The Maori Party is urging all parties to critically review the report from the United Nations Committee Against Torture which concludes that use of taser weapons can be a form of torture, in violation of the UN Convention Against Torture.

“The Committee Against Torture was absolutely clear” said Hone Harawira. “The report states that “the Committee was worried that the use of TaserX26 weapons, provoking extreme pain, constituted a form of torture, and that in certain cases it could also cause death”.

“I don’t get it” said Harawira. “Here we have another UN body identifying that use of the taser gun is an outright violation of human rights, that its use is considered a form of torture – which the New Zealand Government has signed an ‘optional protocol’ to oppose – and yet there's still silence from the government about use of taser guns”.

"Or is this just a case of silence implies consent?" asked Harawira.

“On the 26th of October this year, Damien O’Connor told the House that the Commissioner of Police has acknowledged “that the police are hoping the taser trial is successful”, and the Minister went further to describe it as a “useful tool’”which could be deployed across the country”.

“Just how ‘useful’ it is, is demonstrated by the fact that in the last week, four men in the United States and two in Canada were killed by police use of taser” said Harawira.

The Maori Party took up an official Notice of Complaint with the Human Rights Commission, on the grounds that there will be unlawful discrimination in the use of taser guns by Police during the trial, under the Human Rights Act 1993; and there has been a breach of human rights through the introduction of the taser gun trial by the Government, under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.

“We have always said that Police need training in tact and diplomacy as a key skill rather than adding into their current arsenal an additional and lethal weapon of restraint” said Harawira.

“Having a gun on hand which lodges electric shocks of 50,000 volts with each pull of the trigger just encourages a culture of violence in policing, making both the public and the police more at risk and accepting of violence”.

“The Maori Party urges the Government to wake up and take this tool of torture seriously. The soon-to-be-released Police report on the taser trial (expected around 14 December), should only be considered in light of the UN Committee Against Torture's report and the real fact of taser deaths" ended Harawira.

Background

- The Committee Against Torture reports progress on the 145 states who are party to the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

- New Zealand ratified the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in November 2006 after passing the Crimes in Torture Amendment Bill.


ENDS

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