Fears NZ Seen as Drug Easy Beat

Fears NZ Seen as Drug Easy Beat
Posted by FoM on January 11, 2000 at 11:46:10 PT
New Zealand News from The Press 
Source: The Press Online
New Zealand could be seen as an "easy beat" by drug smugglers after the discharge without conviction of an American visitor who brought hashish and cannabis into the country, Customs Minister Phillida Bunkle said. Ms Bunkle said Customs officials had told her they asked police to oppose the man's application for discharge when he appeared in the Otahuhu District Court on Friday. She said yesterday that she was surprised the police did not respond to that request. 
"My greatest concern, and that of the Customs Service staff, is that New Zealand may now be perceived as an 'easy beat' for people wanting to bring illegal drugs into this country," she said. "The Customs Service is concerned that the latest court decision to discharge without conviction an American visitor on drug importation charges may open the floodgates to increased drug smuggling." Ms Bunkle said news of the court case had been reported widely around the world. "New Zealand's border protection image has been harmed by this inconsistent response," she said. Ms Bunkle said it was very rare for discharges to be granted on Class B importation charges, and the latest case represented the largest cannabis importation for which there had been a discharge. "I am worried by the outcome in this case because of the inconsistency in applying New Zealand's drug laws," she said. Huge resources were employed by the Customs Service to protect the country's borders and she could understand the frustration of Customs staff over the outcome of the court case. Ms Bunkle said she would talk to Police Minister George Hawkins when he returned from overseas. "I am sure George Hawkins will have a strong opinion on this matter. "The Government is determined to ensure consistency in policing its borders and in applying consistent penalties for drug offending." Mr Hawkins is due back shortly before the first Cabinet meeting of the year, due to take place on January 25. The discharged man, reported to be a billionaire, was granted name suppression. Although he has been identified in papers in other countries, and on the Internet, he cannot be named in New Zealand. The New Zealand Herald, which reported the court case, has started litigation to reverse the name suppression order granted by Judge David Harvey. Justice Minister Phil Goff has asked his officials to review the consistency of sentencing for the importation of drugs. "There is a public perception that there has been inconsistency and that inconsistency might be affected by the status of the individual facing the charge," he said yesterday. In other recent events surrounding the court case: The Herald reported that the man had jeopardised his reputation for $650 worth of drugs. It said the 56g of hashish he brought into the country was worth about $500 and his 47g of cannabis plant was worth about $150. The Immigration Service confirmed it had issued the man with a limited purpose permit and he had to leave the country by today, although he could apply to return. Sky Television said it was helpless to stop broadcasting the man's name on its overseas CNN news as it did not have advance information of content. --NZPA New Zealand News from The Press Wednesday, January 12, 2000Related Articles:Jailed Man Angry That Billionaire Walked Free - 1/11/2000 Arrest is a New Spotlight - 1/11/2000 Queries Court Sentence on Billionaire- 1/11/2000 US Man Let Off Over Drugs - 1/09/2000 Count Against CEO at Progressive Discharged-1/08/2000 
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Post Comment

Name: Optional Password: 
Comment: [Please refrain from using profanity in your message]
Link URL: 
Link Title: