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Police must butt out of politics during Rice visit

25 July 2008

Police must butt out of politics during Rice visit

It is a constitutional affront for the Police to threaten students wishing to conduct a citizen's arrest of visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Green Party MP Keith Locke says.

The Auckland District Commander, Superintendent Brett England, has issued a press release vowing to stop any such arrest.

"The Police should stick to security issues, not get involved in politics," Mr Locke, Green Party Police and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, says.

"The job of the Police is to prevent harm coming to Ms Rice, not stopping a student from initiating legal proceedings through a citizen's arrest.

"It is at least arguable that a legal case against Ms Rice might stand up. The Police should not be taking one side or the other.

"Under the International Crimes and International Criminal Court Act 2000, proceedings can be taken against people visiting New Zealand who have been responsible for torture, or the launching of attacks which cause civilian casualties 'clearly excessive' to military objectives.

"It can certainly be argued that both these things have happened in Iraq, under the Secretary of State's watch. Also, there are reports that previously, when she was the President's national security advisor, Ms Rice chaired official meetings where 'enhanced interrogation' or torture methods were approved. The Bush administration has yet to categorically rule out the use of all forms of torture.

"Our Government, for its part, should point out to Ms Rice the contradiction between her tough stance against dictators in Zimbabwe, the Sudan and Burma, and the serious erosion of human rights in her own jurisdiction, not least at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre."


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