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Inquiry into Taser-related deaths before decision

MEDIA RELEASE
29 May 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Inquiry into Taser-related deaths before any NZ decision


Amnesty International continues to oppose any introduction of Tasers by the New Zealand Police before a thorough and independent inquiry into their uses and effects occurs.

Despite calls from NZ First MP Ron Mark to speed up a decision from the Commissioner of Police to introduce stun guns to front line officers, Amnesty International remains seriously concerned by the well-documented misuse of the weapon overseas.

"Within its Annual Report released yesterday Amnesty International documents four deaths in Canada and 69 deaths in the USA last year alone linked to Taser use. A total of 300 deaths have occurred following Taser use in North America since their introduction in 2001," says Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand spokesperson Margaret Taylor.

"No inquiry has looked into the impact of Taser use in these deaths and until such time as one does Amnesty is calling for a moratorium on their introduction and use," she adds.

Mr Mark's media release also appears to suggest Tasers provide a level of force that is not lethal.

"As our reports highlight, this is not the case. Tasers are weapons of lethal force and this fact and our reports must contribute to any decision made by the Commissioner of Police." says Taylor.

Amnesty International has previously urged any decision made on the introduction of Tasers to be made at a ministerial rather than Police Commissioner level alone.

ENDS

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