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Locke Taser complaint under UN Torture Convetion

27 November 2007

Locke makes Taser complaint under UN Torture Convention

Green Party Police Spokesperson Keith Locke is asking the Police Complaints Authority to consider whether the introduction of the Taser stun gun would be contrary to New Zealand's commitments under the UN Convention Against Torture.

"Last Friday, the UN Committee Against Torture said that Taser use 'constituted a form of torture,'"Mr Locke says. .

"I don't see how we can be true to our commitment to the UN Convention Against Torture and still introduce an instrument that shocks people with 50,000 volts. We can't ignore a UN committee that says a Taser, by 'provoking extreme pain' and sometimes causing death, is a form of torture.

"I am asking the Police Complaints Authority, as the responsible body under the Convention for stopping Police torture, to rule on whether Taser use contravenes our international obligations.

"Letting the Police have a torture weapon is also a very bad move at a time when we are trying to reduce the level of violence in society. It gives all the wrong signals.

"The Immigration Bill, now before a Parliamentary select committee, seeks to enshrine the UN Convention Against Torture within New Zealand's core immigration procedures. Will the new Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove now be bringing the UN Committee's verdict on the Taser to the attention of his Cabinet colleagues and immigration officials, and issuing an assurance that this torture weapon will not be used in any immigration-related operations?

"The Police can no longer claim the Taser is safe. In the past two weeks six men in Canada and the United States have died after being tasered, provoking further demands to ban the weapon. Already over 300 people have died in North America after the Taser was used on them, " Mr Locke says.

ENDS

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