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The End-of-Life Choice Society wants an apology from police

The End-of-Life Choice Society wants an apology from the police for an illegal roadside checkpoint and assurances that its campaign for a law change will not be targeted with unwarranted surveillance and intervention, its President Maryan Street said Thursday.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority found that police acted unlawfully when five officers mounted a roadside checkpoint in October 2016 stopping people who had attended a voluntary euthanasia meeting in a Lower Hutt house.

The finding confirmed that those stopped at the bogus checkpoint were targeted for their beliefs and lawful activism, not because of any threat to law and order or public safety, Maryan Street said.

Some members of EOLC - which is campaigning for a change in the law to allow medically assisted dying for the terminally ill and those suffering intolerably - attended the meeting and were asked to give personal details, including their addresses, when stopped.

They were later visited at their homes by police officers making so-called "welfare visits" who asked if they were considering suicide.

"None of the people visited were at imminent risk of suicide," Maryan Street said. "The police frightened and intimidated adults who were not committing any crime in the misguided belief that they were looking after their welfare."

The IPCA found that the checkpoints were unlawful but deemed the visits "appropriate" and consistent with the police's duty to protect life.

"That is illogical," said EOLC secretary Carole Sweney. "How can action carried out as a consequence of an unlawful act be appropriate?"

Maryan Street said the IPCA report added pressure to the need for a law change. "All those involved in the criminal justice system, including the police, are dealing with issues that are beyond the scope of current laws.

"Issues of end-of-life choice should be dealt with as part of the health system and in the frameworks of human rights and the Bill of Rights."

Note: The End-of-Life Choice Society is not associated with Exit International, which organised the Lower Hutt meeting, but some members belong to both organisations. EOLC complained to the IPCA on behalf of its members who were stopped at the road checkpoint and later visited by police at their homes.

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