Helen Clark and Ruth Dreifuss on decriminalising drugs

Recent coverage of the failure of the ‘war on drugs’ continues on Nation this morning.

Yesterday on Breakfast:

The coalition government has promised a referendum on legalising cannabis, but what about decriminalising all drugs?

The Global Commission on Drug Policy members Helen Clark and former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss told Jack Tame how doing so would reduce harm and regulate black markets out of existence.

From Newsweek:

The global “war on drugs” is a “spectacular” failure that has led to thousands of murders, public health crises and human rights abuses, a new report showed.

Released on Monday, the report from the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), a global coalition of 170 nongovernmental organizations working on drug policy issues, overviewed the failure of the 10-year global strategy from the United Nations, which intended to eradicate the illicit drug market by next year.

Instead of curbing the problem, “consumption and illegal trafficking of drugs have reached record levels,” Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand and a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, wrote in the report’s foreword.

This morning on Newshub Nation:

Emma Jolliff asks former Prime Minister and former President of Switzerland Ruth Dreifuss if decriminalising all drugs could reduce harm, and what New Zealand can learn from other countries.

 

Clark, Ardern shamefully lame not urgently addressing drug problems

Urgent action is required to address drug problems, like the prevalence of P (methamphetamine) and the growing problems with and deaths from synthetic drugs (not cannabis as some keep describing it as).

Instead the Minister of Health, David Clark, and the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, are shamefully lame.

RNZ:  Synthetic drug compounds may be reclassified as Class A

Two of the most commonly used synthetic drugs could be reclassified as Class A, bringing them in line with heroin and cocaine.

Health Minister David Clark said the aim was to give the police greater powers to stop makers and sellers of the drug.

He said he would be asking his Cabinet colleagues to support reclassification of two compounds known as AMB-Fubinaca and 5F-ABD.

bad batch of synthetic drugs in Christchurch is suspected to be behind one death. The batch has also put 19 people in hospital over the last two weeks.

“Any death as a result of drug use is a tragedy, and my sympathies go to friends and family,” Dr Clark said.

The government was taking the synthetic drug problem seriously and was talking to service providers and drug users to identify areas of need, he said.

Urgent and drastic action is required, like right now, and Clark is talking to people and might take a tweak to Cabinet some time in the future. I don’t have a problem with enabling tougher sentences for pushing some drugs, but that is unlikely to dent the ongoing catastrophe that requires urgency.

A decision on reclassification under the Misuse of Drugs Act would be made in coming weeks.

“It’s important to acknowledge that reclassification is not a silver bullet. We need to treat drug abuse, including synthetic cannabis, as a health issue,” Dr Clark said.

It’s not cannabis. And this is hardly going to make a difference.

Drug laws need a complete overhaul, not just a tweak, says The Drug Foundation.

It said drug suppliers and users needed to be treated differently under the law, as suggested by the Law Commission in 2011.

This would stop addicts being penalised for what should be health issue, Drug Foundation chief executive Ross Bell said.

“Unless the government reforms that law then its good intentions of going after the big guys doesn’t stop police from then also choosing to criminalise people who are using these drugs.”

Funding for drug addiction services also needed to double, he said.

Drug rehabilitation service provider What Ever It Takes Trust general manager Caroline Lampp said a reclassification of two synthetic drugs would help stop supply, but more help for addicts was crucial.

“There a big gap here in Hawke’s Bay and in other places around the before and after support,” she said.

Dr Clark agreed addiction services are underfunded, but said the government was waiting for the final report from the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry before increasing any funding.

Waiting. Waiting! While lives continue to be ruined, and people keep dying.

Last week in New York Ardern notably did not join Donald Trump’s continuation of the failed ‘war on drugs’.

Last night  saw Ardern spout some absolutely vague waffle on the drug problem last night on TV and now I can’t find it, such is it’s lack of importance in the news.

TVNZ has this online: Potent new batch of synthetic drugs turning users violent in Christchurch – ‘Every person is quite unpredictable’

Two more people have died from suspected synthetic drug overdoses in Christchurch in the last fortnight as the city grapples with a dangerous batch of the drugs.

Those on the front line say patients on synthetic cannabis are becoming more aggressive and turning on the people trying to help them.

St John’s Craig Downing told 1 NEWS about one of these violent incidents.

“Last Saturday night we were called to a case that the ambulance staff responded to.

“They attended to a person and whilst in the back of the ambulance that person, without provocation or warning, violently attacked one of my staff,” Mr Downing said.

“I’m extremely worried because we don’t know from one patient to the next what’s in this substance and as such every person is quite unpredictable.”

Others dealing with Christchurch’s less fortunate have also reported the new strain of synthetic cannabis causing issues.

“The latest batches are significantly more powerful than they’ve ever been, in fact up to 400 times the strength of THC which is really significant.

“From an addictive perspective one hit can get someone hooked on it,” Christchurch City Mission’s Matthew Mark says.

A paper is set to go to cabinet in the next few weeks with a plan on how to tackle the issue, including a possible law change.

‘Next few weeks’, ‘possible law change’. Hopeless.

Ardern appears in video of that item alongside Minister of Police Stuart Nash waffling a bit about what they might do.

I think that was the news item I heard Ardern speaking but it seems to have been expunged.

Clark, Ardern and the Government have been shamefully lame in their dealing with urgent drug abuse problems.

Green MP Chloe Swarbrick is putting them to shame (see next post) but is not making much impression on Ardern or her Government.

 

 

Dunne “more than extremely stunned” by National’s ‘war on drugs’ reversal

After Donald Trump promoted continuing the ‘war on drugs’ Simon Bridges said that a National-led government would sign up to it. Peter Dunne, a minister in the last National-led government, says that he is “more than extremely stunned” by this.

On Monday:  National would sign up to international drug effort

A National-led Government would sign up to the latest international push to tackle drugs, overturning the Labour-led Government’s decision not to, National Party Leader Simon Bridges says.

“Combatting the manufacture and supply of drugs requires governments and law enforcement agencies from right around the world to work together. And we must share ideas about how to tackle addiction and drug use.

“That’s why the Prime Minister’s decision not to sign New Zealand up to the Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem at the UN this week, distancing New Zealand from those international efforts, is concerning.

“More than 120 countries including some of our closest partners from Australia to the US, the UK and Canada have signalled their intention to do their part.

“The Prime Minister’s excuse for not signing up, that the Government is taking ‘a health approach’ isn’t good enough. The strategy calls for countries to do more to address addiction and provide more treatment as well as working more closely together to clamp down on manufacturing and supply.

“Taken together, that’s how we will deal with the drug problem.

“But by distancing New Zealand from that work the Prime Minister risks making New Zealand an easy target and sending the message that her Government is soft on crime and drug dealers.

“This is the latest example of this Government’s soft-on-crime approach. It’s failing to act quickly on synthetic cannabis which continues to become a bigger issue and it’s promising to make it harder for people to be sent to prison and easier for them to get out.

“National will sign up to the agreement, we will support those with drug and alcohol issues but we will also hold those who peddle these drugs to account. The Prime Minister needs to properly explain why she won’t.”

National, particularly Judith Collins but increasingly Bridges, have been running a ‘soft on crime’ campaign against the Government, and Bridges has run this line again here.

Peter Dunne’s response (The Spinoff): I am stunned by National’s somersault in backing Trump’s ‘war on drugs’

Just two years ago I had the privilege as then associate minister of health of addressing the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs. That was while the previous National-led government was in office.

In my address I made the following comments:

“Last year at CND 58, I spoke of the importance of three fundamental pillars of drug policy – Proportion, Compassion and Innovation. New Zealand has woven these principles throughout its approach to addressing drug issues, including them as central tenets in its recently launched 2015 National Drug Policy. But perhaps there is a fourth pillar that is missing – boldness. Incremental movement, if any, has been the norm for drug policy development for as long as I can remember – and the movement has not always been forward. As encouraging as the shift has been, the fact is that compared to the global narcotic industries, we are moving at a glacial pace, hamstrung by an outdated overly punitive approach.”

These comments, as noted above, were all consistent with New Zealand’s National Drug Policy adopted by the Cabinet after much debate in 2015. The policy and the speech, and others I gave at the annual UN Convention on Narcotic Drugs meetings through to 2017 made it clear New Zealand rejected the “war on drugs” rhetoric and approach that had dominated international drug policy for too long, in favour of the more compassionate, health centred approach set out in the National Drug Policy.

I am delighted that the prime minister has repeated these messages and confirmed in reality the direction of the National Drug Policy in her address to the UN General Assembly this week, and that she has rejected outright the backward focusing approach of the president of the United States to try to reignite the “war on drugs” when most countries have been looking to move on from that.

That refers to Jacinda Ardern’s address.

However, I am more than extremely stunned that the National Party, which could have claimed the high ground and pointed out she was just copying policy already in place, has instead done a complete somersault on its previous position and apparently now supports the Trump proposition.

It is hard to find – let alone justify – a credible reason for this about-face. Certainly the few public statements I have seen go little beyond the uninformed and the platitudinous. So it becomes difficult to believe that the driving principle behind this decision is anything but a perverse determination to take a different view from Labour, whatever that view might be, and no matter what your own government’s record on the matter. It is a very dark day for National’s ongoing credibility on this issue.

It all seems a far cry from when a New Zealand government minister could stand before the UN General Assembly just two short years ago, and say that our country believed that “responsible regulation is the key to reducing drug-related harm and achieving long-term success in drug control approaches.”

The bipartisan focus on drugs as a health issue seems to have been tossed aside as a political inconvenience, especially when knee jerk opposition for the sake of it is so much easier. That is to National’s ongoing shame.

When in Government National dragged the chain badly on addressing out of control drug problems, but this is a backward step even by their standards.

Hopefully decent change will happen before national get back into government, but Ardern and Labour have a lot of stepping up to do on this, and converting some of their rhetoric into real changes to how we deal with drug problems. So far they haven’t even had the guts to deal with cannabis apart from dabbling on medical cannabis use.

For someone who claims to lead a progressive government the progress on drug law reform is very disappointing so far. If Labour actually got something meaningful done they would put Bridges and national to shame.

Disgraceful lack of action from David Clark and Labour on drug crisis

The drug abuse crisis continues to hit the headlines,with ongoing and growing problems, more and more deaths, and the Labour-led Government continues to do bugger all if that.

The wellbeing and lives of many people are at risk, this should be getting urgent attention, but the Labour-led government looks as bad as National was in being to gutless to address the problems.

Yesterday from Stuff:  Warning issued over synthetic cannabis use after eight people hospitalised

At least three people have been admitted to intensive care and others treated within 24 hours in Christchurch after using synthetic cannabis.

The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) issued a warning about the illegal drug after a rush of people suffering from potentially severe synthetic cannabis toxicity ended up in Christchurch Hospital.

Emergency medicine specialist Paul Gee said there had been a noticeable increase in people needing emergency help due to the side effects of synthetic cannabis use.

Eight people have been treated in Christchurch over the last 24 hours, with three having to be admitted to the intensive care unit.

Also Synthetic cannabis users gambling with their lives after a ‘bad batch’

Synthetic cannabis users are gambling with their lives, a health official warns following a spate of hospitalisations in Christchurch.

The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) issued a warning on Thursday evening about the illegal drug after a rush of people suffering from potentially severe synthetic cannabis toxicity ended up in Christchurch Hospital.

As a Minister in the National-led Government Peter Dunne copped a lot of flak for dysfunctional drug laws and growing drug abuse problems, especially the growing use of new drugs often inaccurately referred to as synthetic cannabis.

It suited National to allow the blame to fall on Dunne while they did virtually nothing to deal with obvious drug law problems and growing use of dangerous drugs. And there has been many ignorant attacks on Dunne.

On 1 News yesterday Dunne suggested a rethink on how we deal with natural cannabis: Legalising recreational cannabis could stem NZ’s epidemic of ‘zombie drug’ deaths, Peter Dunne says

Synthetic cannabis has killed more than 40 people in New Zealand since June last year, a massive jump from the previous five years, the coroner recently reported.

One way to serve a blow to the market for the so called zombie-drug in New Zealand would be to legalise recreational cannabis, former MP and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said today on TVNZ1’s Breakfast.

But the suggestion came with a caveat.

“It would certainly remove some of the incentive for people to try some of these substances,” he said. “But…some of these (synthetic drugs) are so potent and so powerful that people may well feel they’ll get a better high from these rather than the real product.

“While on the face of it the answer would be yes (to marijuana legalisation), I don’t think it’s necessarily that simple.”

“I don’t think we ever anticipated we’d get new synthetic drugs that would lead to so much harm,” NZ Drug Foundation Executive Director Ross Bell told 1 NEWS yesterday.

So what is the current Government doing about it? very little as far as I’m aware. Health Minister David Clark seems as reluctant as National was to address the problem, and most of the Labour-led Government seem to be gutless – the exception is Green MP Chloe Swarbrick who is working hard to try to progress long overdue drug law reforms.

The only official press release from David Clark since becoming Minister was this last December: Medicinal cannabis to ease suffering. Labour have been very disappointing in their handling even of medicinal cannabis.

Nothing from Clark mentioning ‘synthetic’. What the hell is he doing apart from nothing?

NZ Herald (31 July 2018): Health Minister David Clark in favour of liberalising drug laws

Health Minister David Clark is personally in favour of more liberal drug laws because prohibition has not worked in the past.

But Clark would not commit to abiding by the result of any referendum on loosening laws around cannabis use, saying he preferred to wait for advice from his colleagues.

“I think it’s highly likely that that’s the course we would take … all I’ve said is I want to wait for advice.

“I haven’t had a conversation with colleagues about how that referendum’s going to be framed and what question we’re going to be asking the public.

“Broadly, I favour at a more personal level, more liberal drug laws because I think in the world when prohibition has been tried, it hasn’t worked.”

We have multiple drug crises, with both synthetics and P (methamphetamine). Natural cannabis is far less dangerous, but it is getting more expensive and harder to obtain because drug pushers make more money out of getting people addicted to P and synthetic drugs. They have no trouble finding more victims to replace those who die.

National’s lack of action on drug abuse and drug laws was extremely disappointing.

Clark and Labour are acting just as poorly. This is disgraceful.

Regulated use of drugs less harmful than alcohol

Life expectancy decline attributed to epidemic

After decades of increasing life expectancy for Americans there has been a decline in the last two years, and the promary cause is being attributed to an epidemic.

Chicago Tribune: The epidemic that’s shortening American lives

 In the United States, life expectancy at birth has inched up almost every year over the past half century, going from under 70 years in 1963 to nearly 79 years in 2014. But the progress that once seemed automatic has stopped. Last year, for the second consecutive year, life expectancy declined.

This is not because of a surge in heart attacks among retirees. In fact, life expectancy at age 65 rose a bit in 2016.

Neither is it because of obesity, which has been referred to as a life expectancy time bomb.

The overall decline stems from an increase in the death rate among younger people.

In the 15-24 age group, mortality rose by almost 8 percent; among those 25-34, it jumped by more than 10 percent.

Only among seniors did the death rate decline.

Drugs extend the lives of older people, but shorten and end the lives of many younger people.

More than anything else, the increase is attributable to an epidemic of fatalities from drug overdoses. Last year, 63,632 people died this way — up from 16,849 in 1999. The number of fatalities exceeded the number of Americans who died from auto accidents and gun homicides combined.

More than 3 in 4 of the overdose deaths involved opioids. Heroin and prescription painkillers account for the majority, but the newest and most lethal drug is fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times more potent than heroin. Deaths involving this and other synthetic opioids (excluding methadone) more than doubled last year, to 19,413.

Drug overdoses now have eclipsed the AIDS epidemic at its height. In October, President Donald Trump declared the problem a public health emergency.

In New Zealand we have had a number of deaths this year attributed to synthetic drugs (sometimes erroneously referred to as synthetic cannabis).

NZH in September: Twenty deaths linked to synthetic drugs

Police believe around 20 people may have died from synthetic drugs.

Police and the Chief Coroner have today reinforced their previous warning to communities about the dangerous consequences of using synthetic drugs.

It comes following the recent deaths of two men aged 22 and 37, and a 26-year-old woman, all from West Auckland who died in separate incidents and where the Coroner is investigating whether synthetic drugs were a possible cause of death.

Police say it is a nationwide problem and are also looking at the recent death of a 21-year-old Feilding man where synthetic drugs may have been involved.

Also from NZH: Synthetic cannabis – a fatal addiction. The short life and tragic death of Calum Jones

Calum Jones’ last words to his sister were a promise.

As he dropped her off at work she asked him to promise her that he would not use synthetic cannabis that day.

“I promise I won’t,” the 22-year-old said.

Hours later he was dead, found lifeless on his bedroom floor by his elderly grandmother.

Synthetic drug addiction and deaths are just a part of a much wider drug problem.

NZH: Thousands of overdose deaths linked to rise in fentanyl in drug supply

That narcotic, increasingly spliced into the nation’s illicit drug supply, is fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller exacerbating heroin’s deadly trap. In cities across America, it is fuelling deeper addiction and has become one of the most prominent killers linked to the nation’s drug crisis.

In 24 of the nation’s largest cities and the counties that surround them, fentanyl-related overdose deaths increased nearly 600 per cent from 2014 to 2016, according to county health departments nationwide. According to overdose records in those cities reviewed by The Washington Post, there were 582 fatal overdoses linked to fentanyl in 2014, a number that soared to 3946 last year. Officials estimate there will be a much higher number of fatal fentanyl-related overdoses in 2017.

NZ Drug Foundation: Underdosing naloxone

In 2012, 41,502 drug overdose deaths were recorded in the US – almost 80 percent of which were accidental, and almost 7 percent were of unknown intent. And the drugs? More than half were pharmaceuticals, and more than 70 percent of these were opioid analgesics.

The non-pharmaceutical deaths? Heroin, mostly, either on its own or combined with alcohol, pharmaceuticals or cocaine. Looking further into the stats makes for some depressing reading. In 2011, there were about 2.5 million visits to US emergency departments due to drug misuse and abuse. Around 71,000 of those were by people under 18 years of age.

And it’s not just the US. Globally, an estimated 69,000 people die each year from opioid overdose (both pharmaceutical drugs like Oxycontin and morphine as well as illegal drugs like heroin and ‘homebake’ opioids). In the US, it’s hit epidemic status, and the rest of the world is seeing increases, especially as prescription medicine misuse is on the rise. It’s also no longer limited to the streets. With the rise in prescription opioids, middle-aged women are one of the rising demographics for overdose rates.

The problem is smaller here

Yes, comparatively, the figures are small in New Zealand. They’re also incredibly difficult to find. Recent statistics suggest that more than 400 people died of a drug overdose in the four years between 2009 and 2013. Of these, it’s estimated that an average of about 30 people per year die of opioid overdose.

But that’s still a significant number. A nephew of mine will be included in those statistics.

But there is another drug that’s an even bigger cause of death.

NZ Drug Foundation –  The New Zealand Drug Harm Index 2016:

That’s a bit dated, but shows a major problem with many drugs. Alcohol is a factor in a lot of crime and quite a few deaths in New Zealand.

A significant factor with alcohol is the amount of harm it does to people other than the user.

Dangerous (and sometimes deliberate) overuse of drugs is one of the biggest dangers to young people.

Along with another addiction, overeating (which has longer term effects), people risk being the cause of a decline in their own life expectancy.

Life saving drugs and medical interventions may not be able to do much about the amount of self harm we do.

And much of this is driven by profit motives, a lot of it legal (as in alcohol and tobacco), and increasingly illegal, with large amounts of drugs being imported.

The synthetic drug crisis

Killer chemicals – Inside NZ’s synthetic cannabis crisis

At least 20 people have died after smoking synthetic cannabis, but where is the community outrage and Government action plan?

In part one of a two-part series, we reveal the human toll of a killer drug.

Anika used to enjoy making art, before she became a slave to synthetic cannabis.

Then all she cared about was finding money to buy “synnies”.

She’s only 21, yet death stalked her.

Her friend, Michael, says: “I describe it as a zombie drug because the actual description of a zombie is the walking dead – they die, get up and they start hunting food.”

Where is the public outcry?

Ironically the current situation has come about because of a public outcry over the sale of synthetics after a law change to try and bring them under control, so the Government backed down.

This may have avoided becoming an election issue because all parties may be in part culpable.

Ducking for cover lest they lose some votes (losing lives doesn’t seem to be as important to them).

 

Gilbert: National Party’s drug and gang policy is cynical and dangerous

Sociologist and expert on gangs Jarrod Gilbert has responded to National’s gang and drugs policy.

Dr Jarrod Gilbert @NZH: National Party’s drug and gang policy is cynical and dangerous

The history of gangs and politics stretches back to Norm Kirk, who before the 1972 election promised to ‘take the bike off the bikies’. Big Norm never did take the bikes of the bikies but he did get elected. And ever since failed or foolish policies have made way for the fact that the politics of them worked.

Perhaps because this is such an old trick, politicians now have to ramp up the gimmick to get traction. Labour’s Stuart Nash said he would simply ‘crush the gangs’ if elected, but perhaps because we’d heard that so many times before most of us just sniggered. Last time it was Judith Collins saying that gangs were targeting wealthy school children to sell P to. Why wealthy school children? Well, that’s the demographic of her voters, so it made the issue more relevant. The fact there wasn’t a shred of evidence to support the claim was beside the point.

We can roll our eyes at that nonsense, but Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett’s latest effort is far more sinister.

National is proposing to give police powers to search gang members without a warrant. Allowing police the power to march through people’s houses at their will is a power that if targeted against anybody else (the parents of wealthy school children, for instance) would be seen as completely outrageous.

But as Bennett said, ‘some people have fewer rights than others.’ And that’s a statement that should trouble us, particularly when the Prime Minister supports it by saying, ‘it’s good that we don’t have a written constitution it’s enabled the country to deal with issues in a practical way.’

But this isn’t even practical. Far from it. Bennett said on Twitter that ‘scumbag gangs don’t deserve protection’. But the majority of drug dealers aren’t gang members, so why do those scumbags have greater rights than those in a gang?

Gangs are an easy political target, especially in an election campaign.

Also, who constitute a gang member may sound like an easy question, but it isn’t. I’ve been confused for one by police because of my research associations – and I can tell you that having the police target you unjustly is incredibly unpleasant. Furthermore, what if your son is in a gang and he’s staying with you, can your house then be searched without a warrant? How far does the discretion extend? How many times can a gang member’s house be searched without finding anything before such searches are stopped?

That much power vested in police without judicial oversight is concerning but because it says ‘gang’ fewer people will be concerned: at least that’s what Bennett is backing on.

It looks like cynical targeting of voters.

The proposed law will not have any meaningful impact on the drug trade in New Zealand. But it does speak to who we are as a country. Paula Bennett ought be called out in the strongest possible terms for this cynical politicking.

Our country, and the principles of Western justice that underpin it, are more valuable than a political party’s advantage on the hustings.

It’s not that I think we shouldn’t vote for Paula Bennet. I think she should resign.

I don’t know if it warrants a resignation of the Minister of Police – it is a proposal in an election campaign. Voters get to decide whether ministers deserve to be returned as MPs, to an extent.

Many policies proposed in election campaigns never happen.

But this is a very troubling proposal from Bennett, and from National.

Geiringer on National’s gang ‘crack down’ policy

Yesterday Paula Bennett, the current Minister of Police, announced new policy that would ‘crack down on gangs and drugs’ – see National’s gang and drugs policy.

The most contentious parts of this policy:

  • Giving Police new power to search the cars and houses of the most serious criminal gang members at any time to ensure they don’t have firearms through new Firearms Prohibition Orders (FPOs)
  • Imposing new obligations on gang members on a benefit so that if they can’t justify expensive assets, they can have their benefit cancelled or be declined a benefit

Bennett conceded it would reduce the human rights of ‘criminals’ – at the search stage they have not been convicted.

@BarristerNZ (Felix Geiringer) tweeted:

A Twitter rant about human rights, & how human rights law does not interfere with the legitimate conduct of police investigations.

Human rights law merely sets a minimum standard of State behaviour that must be afforded to all so we live in a free & democratic society.

Human rights law does not exempt anyone from our criminal laws. It is not even a guarantee of good treatment.

The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act does not guarantee freedom from being searched, just from being unreasonably searched.

Our State isn’t prohibited from discriminating on the basis someone commits crimes, only on grounds like sex, race, religion, disability.

Powers to search usually require reasonable grounds –basically info that means it’s reasonable to think thing being searched for is there.

Limitations on our rights are also permitted so long as they are demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society.

Justifiable limitations need to be for a legitimate purpose, rationally connected to achieving that purpose, and proportionate.

National saying it will deny human rights to worst criminals is appealing to our basest instincts, but it doesn’t make policing sense.

It means conducting searches when a reasonable assessment of the information the Police holds gives no basis to justify such a search.

It means conducting a series of searches when that targets people on grounds of sex, sexuality, race, or religion, not just criminality.

It means conducting unreasonable searches, and doing so in a way that doesn’t reduce crime, or achieves little while intruding lots. In other words, it may legalise bad policing but does nothing to extend the powers of police doing good work to reduce crime.

Human rights are a collective, not just individual, good. We all benefit from their protection, & from the society they create.

But human rights law only works in this way if it is universal and inalienable. Don’t let National tell you otherwise.

Police can already search any place or vehicle w/o a warrant w reasonable grounds to suspect there’s a firearm in breach of the Arms Act or a lawful firearm used in serious crime, that a deranged person may use to hurt someone, possessed by subject of a protection order possessed by someone against whom there are grounds for a protection order, or that is evidence of serious crime or Arms Act breach.

If police have reasonable grounds to suspect a crime & reasonable grounds to believe there is evidence they can get a warrant. But also in many drugs cases, if they think the evidence may get destroyed while they wait for a warrant they can go ahead & search without one.

These are all powers that already exist. The suggestion that the police are somehow hamstrung in gang drugs & guns cases is fiction.

 

National’s gang and drugs policy

Yesterday Paula Bennett, the Minister of Police, announced new policy to ‘crack down on gangs and drugs’. It was controversial in particular because it threatened to reduce the human rights of people deemed to be ‘criminal’.

Here is National’s full announcement.


New crack down on gangs and drugs

National will redouble its efforts to stop drugs getting into the country, stamp out meth labs and disrupt the supply networks as part of a refreshed Methamphetamine Action Plan.

A re-elected National Government will invest $82 million over four years to tackle methamphetamine with a range of tough measures to clamp down hard on organised crime and drug dealers, Police spokesperson Paula Bennett says.

It will also fund more treatment places for those addicted to methamphetamine and other drugs.

“Gangs are increasingly pushing dangerous drugs into our communities and we are committed to stopping them, locking them up and seizing their ill-gotten gains,” Mrs Bennett says.

“National will redouble its efforts to stop drugs getting into the country, stamp out meth labs and disrupt the supply networks as part of a refreshed Methamphetamine Action Plan.

“We’ll also increase Police powers to stop gang members from committing crimes in the first place, backing up our investment in more Police officers and smarter policing and our tougher sentencing of offenders.”

A new National Government will spend $40 million over four years on drug treatment and education services including:

  • 1500 additional in patient drug treatment places
  • Community based treatment, prevention and education services provided by NGOs and Iwi

National will also invest $42 million over four years on a crackdown on gangs and the supply of serious drugs by:

  • Giving Police new power to search the cars and houses of the most serious criminal gang members at any time to ensure they don’t have firearms through new Firearms Prohibition Orders (FPOs)
  • Doubling the number of drug dog teams and introducing them in domestic airports, ferries and mail centres to clamp down on trafficking
  • Increasing penalties for manufacturing and distributing synthetic cannabis from a maximum of two years imprisonment to eight years, but no changes to charges for possession
  • Imposing new obligations on gang members on a benefit so that if they can’t justify expensive assets, they can have their benefit cancelled or be declined a benefit
  • Introducing a new charge of ‘wilful contamination’ for people who contaminate rental properties
  • Introducing compulsory police vetting for anyone working at ports, mail centres or airport baggage centres (this includes contractors)

“These measures come on top of the $503 million announced earlier this year for 1125 more Police Staff, which included 80 police to target organised crime and drugs.

“Serious drugs like methamphetamine and the gangs who peddle them are a scourge on our society,” Mrs Bennett says.

“These drug dealers are destroying lives for profit and greed and these drugs have no place in our country.

“We need to help those that are already addicted and find ways of stopping new victims of this drug and the gangs who peddle them.

“Our investment in strengthening our borders will also help reduce harm because we know the most effective way to tackle this problem is to stop drugs reaching our shores in the first place.

“National is the party of law and order – we take the safety of all New Zealanders seriously. Police’s mission is for New Zealand to be the safest country in the world, and National wholeheartedly supports this goal,” Mrs Bennett says.

The $82 million over four years will be made up of $40 million from the proceeds of crime and $42 million of new funding.