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Campaign Against The Taser Stun Gun launched

12 May 2006

Campaign Against The Taser Stun Gun launched

Concerned community groups and individuals have banded together to oppose Police plans to introduce the American-made Taser stun gun into New Zealand policing operations. In February, a Police press release announced plans to introduce Tasers, initially for use in five major Police districts including Auckland and Wellington.

“Campaign Against The Taser (CATT) has been formed to oppose these moves,” CATT spokesperson Marie Dyhrberg said today.

In overseas jurisdictions where the Taser gun has been introduced, there has been mounting concern and controversy over its use. In America alone, there have been over 150 deaths in which the use or abuse of the Taser by police and other law enforcement officials has been implicated.

“In New Zealand, where the Police do not routinely carry firearms, there is no possible justification for the Taser’s introduction”, Marie Dyhrberg said.

“The New Zealand public does not support routine arming of the Police. It has made that clear over a long period of time. Certainly, before we even begin to contemplate introducing a dangerous weapon like the Taser in this country, there should be a full independent inquiry and a robust public debate. The Police should not be allowed to get away with introducing, by press release, fundamental changes to the way policing is conducted here.”

“The Taser looks like a gun, it fires a projectile (barbed darts) like a gun, it fells people like a gun and (overseas experience shows) can actually kill people, just like a gun”, said Ms Dyhrberg

Campaign Against The Taser supporters include the Human Rights Foundation of Aotearoa New Zealand, Global Peace and Justice Auckland, the Peace Foundation and Auckland University Law School’s Equal Justice Project.
CATT will be holding a public meeting in Auckland on Tuesday 6 June. The meeting will be addressed by experts on the legal, medical and human rights implications of Taser guns.

Marie Dyhrberg says that, with major concerns currently being voiced about the use and abuse by Police of pepper spray, it is critical that all of the implications of the proposed introduction by the Police of Taser guns in this country be thoroughly scrutinised.

“Pepper spray, an incapacitating weapon which the Police already have, is now being misused by individual Police officers, in ways never anticipated by New Zealanders when it was introduced.”

“Particularly given the experience with pepper spray, what is needed before entrusting still further dangerous weapons to our Police is an independent public inquiry. This should examine all aspects of the claimed need, potential risks of, and overall justification for introducing the Taser as part of general policing in this country”, Ms Dyhrberg said.

“The Police have not remotely established a sufficient justification for their move to introduce the Taser. All current proposals should be halted until they have been independently inquired into and fully justified, both to the New Zealand public and also to Parliament, which bears the ultimate responsibility for the welfare and safety of all New Zealanders. Furthermore, any move to arm the Police cannot occur without the introduction of appropriate legal authority and safeguards.”

CATT has written to the Commissioner of Police and the Minister of Police. The letters set out CATT concerns about the introduction of the Taser gun, and seek access to any information considered by the Commissioner and the Minister before the decision was made to introduce the Taser, as well as trial protocols and proposed operating and training procedures.

ENDS

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