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Weapons brokering legislation changes recommended

MEDIA RELEASE – For immediate use, 22 February 2018

Weapons brokering legislation changes recommended

The New Zealand Law Society says some changes are needed to the Brokering (Weapons and Related Items) Controls Bill to improve the regulation of weapons brokering, consistent with New Zealand’s international treaty obligations.

The Bill will introduce more comprehensive controls on weapons brokering between foreign countries and will prevent New Zealanders and New Zealand-based entities from engaging in brokering contrary to New Zealand’s obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty.

The Law Society has recommended to Parliament’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade select committee that it consider clarifying the Bill’s extraterritorial scope, to ensure that it is proportionate and effective.

The Law Society notes that the Bill will apply to people who do not normally live in New Zealand and have engaged in brokering or weapon sales outside of New Zealand but who happen to be in New Zealand at a particular time (for example, on holiday).

“This provision is appropriate in relation to crimes of universal jurisdiction (such as crimes against humanity or terrorism) but the select committee should consider whether it is appropriate in this case. For example, the equivalent Canadian law only applies to acts of brokering committed outside of Canada where they are committed by Canadian citizens, permanent residents and corporations,” Law Society spokesperson Jack Wass told the committee.

Another concern is that employees of a company involved in brokering are not required to be individually registered.

“By not requiring employees of a company to register, the Bill assumes the employer is registered. This has potential to create a substantial loophole and compromise the overall effectiveness of the regulating regime, particularly where the employment is a sham or the employer is based in a country that does not regulate brokering” says Law Society spokesperson Elana Geddis.

Ms Geddis says a practical solution would be to allow an exemption for employees only if the employer is registered and has a permit.

“This would mean a New Zealander who is employed by a foreign company would be liable unless their employer obtained the necessary registration or permit,” Ms Geddis says.

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