This all harks back to the political populism behind seeking to be tough on crime, something I happily support. What should this mean? Well it means you need to look at the whole process of resolving crime and dealing with criminals.
The first is to ensure the Police are focusing on crime according to its seriousness and crime that involves victims. This means crimes against the person are prioritised over property crimes, which are prioritised over crimes that are against no one.
The second is to ensure the Police have the tools available to do the job effectively but fairly. That does mean having access to records of all those convicted, it means having access to fingerprint records of convicts and DNA of convicts as well. It means being able to be issued with a search warrant or interception warrant if there are, on balance of probabilities, grounds to assume a serious crime is being carried out or planned by suspects. However, it also means disposing of evidence that proves nothing, and that includes the samples of those not convicted unless they wish to have it retained. The innocent should retain that status, rather than some murky halfway house of being "known to the Police".
Thirdly, the courts should have objective law behind them and fact finding processes so that juries and judges can make appropriate decisions based on legally obtained evidence. That means courts are not occupied by victimless crimes
Finally, sentencing should do what it is meant to do, protect the public and send a punitive message. Imprisonment exists to protect people from the perpetrator committing further crime, but must also be proportionate to the offence and the harm to the victim. Fines may be appropriate if the purpose is to punish someone who is unlikely to reoffend. Young offenders might be expected to be rehabilitated for a first time offence that is not a serious violent or sexual offence.
Debate around how best to manage the criminal justice system IS the primary area of public policy that would remain under a Libertarianz government.
Sadly, this government is seeking to use a sledgehammer to deal to crime, and it is doing so on the basis the Police like to do policy in this area - "let's get those bastards and give us the tools to do it, and you'll be right, you'll have nothing to fear if you've done nothing wrong".
Let's be clear what we are talking about in the government proposals:
- Seizure of assets if you can't prove you obtained them legally. Imagine right now the effort you'd need to go to in proving how you afforded your last major purchase? Imagine now how the most sophisticated gangs would establish shell companies and manufacture invoices, receipts and the likes to ensure that they could prove enough. Most of all, ask yourself why anyone should have to prove innocence?
- Wide ranging powers to enter properties, without warrant, if the Police suspect a person who has committed an imprisonable offence is on the premises;
- Wide ranging powers to stop a vehicle, without warrant, if the Police suspect a person in the vehicle has committed an imprisonable offence;
- Wide ranging powers to enter properties, without warrant, if the Police suspect a person is about to commit a drug offence;
- Wide ranging powers to stop and search people in public, without warrant, if the Police suspect a person is carrying a weapon, including knife or a "disabling substance" (yes women, that means you carrying mace or similar);
- Wide ranging powers to search any vehicle, without warrant, if there are reasonable grounds to believe stolen property is within it;
- Powers for the Police to enter your property lawfully (i.e. unchallenged) and snoop using their eyes, ears and recording what was seen and heard;
- Powers for the Police to require you to provide passwords to access your computer and any data you store.. and so on.
What needs to be asked is why this is justified, and what are the specific problems that mean obtaining search warrants is proving too problematic for the Police?
Judith Collins thinks you are protected because of judicial review, but frankly this has little credibility. Parliament is sovereign, when it takes away your rights, the courts are not likely to overturn this. The Bill of Rights Act is only useful for challenging interpretation of general provisions, but the specificity of statute can override this. Beyond that she thinks the media and democracy save your rights, but frankly the NZ mainstream media is not up to the job, as you'll see below. Besides, when the Police Minister cheers the end of the presumption of innocence, then you should be afraid.
Bear in mind of course, guilt till proven innocent is what the tax system is about (and Idiot Savant probably isn't going to campaign to change that is he?)
Following on, it is highly ironic that the president of the Police union Greg O'Connor says this:
"New Zealanders have got to wake up. P has done for this country what the Prohibition did in the US – it's entrenched organised crime."
History delivered an answer to that. Perhaps Mr. O'Connor might be asked to comment on this?
Oh and while we're at it, notice how the Dominion Post article above looks essentially like a government press release with nothing but comment from those supportive of it? Notice how Britton Broun (who was graduating three years ago) did not approach any opposition parties, defence lawyers or anyone else who might be able to comment differently on his little piece of agitprop?
Is this the free media Judith Collins relies upon for robust and vigorous debate and defence of our rights?