Friday, June 24, 2005

Confiscation beyond any reasonable doubt

No Right Turn is rightly concerned at the outrageous asset forfeiture laws being introduced by this Government which, if introduced, would allow assets to be seized on a civil ("balance of probabilities") standard of proof. As Idiot/Savant says, "if the bill becomes law, we won't just be seizing the property of those who are probably criminals, but that of those who might be. This is a ridiculously low standard of proof, and one that is a blatant end-run around the checks and safeguards of the justice system."

And one that National's Vile Ryall and Richard Worthless have complained is only a "watered down version of National's own policy" to steal from people without even 'proof beyond reasonable doubt' of their guilt. Ryall is on the record as wanting to end the presumption of innocence altogether for those accused of 'drug crimes.' It seems both big parties are happy to trade away our fundamental legal protections--protections we have (or had) for very good reasons.

Bear in mind there are already have laws in place to confiscate assets, with $280,000 of New Zealanders' assets being confiscated every month because courts decided 'on the balance of probabilities' these assets were "tainted." These laws are deemed insufficently jack-booted however, since a conviction is needed before a person's home or farm is siezed; so that is to be changed to take, not just assets that are "tainted,' but everything a person owns. Everything. Phil Goff says he is hoping for an enormous increase in amounts confiscated.

Here's how similar laws work in Britain: a brothel owner being 'stripped of her millions' on a 'balance of probabilities' because she offered services there that are now rightly legal here. NRT again: "We would not tolerate a court fining suspected criminals on such low standards; this is no different."

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5 Comments:

Blogger Idiot/Savant said...

This isn't the first post I've made about this outrageous piece of legislation, and it won't be the last. I've been doing my nut about it for the past seven months. A list of posts laying out some of the other problems with the bill can be found at the bottom of this article.

And that brothel owner got off lightly; at least she seems to have actually violated the law (albeit a bullshit law). In the US, police and federal agencies have been known to frame people and falsify evidence in order to seize their property. for example:

In California, thirty-one state and federal agents raided Donald P. Scott's 200-acre ranch on the pretext that marijuana was growing there. Scott was inadvertently killed by a deputy sheriff. No evidence of marijuana cultivation was discovered, and a subsequent investigation by the Ventura County's District Attorney's Office found that the drug agents had been motivated partly by a desire to seize the $5 million ranch. They had obtained an appraisal of the property weeks before the raid.

(from Eric Schlosser's Reefer Madness. Further details here)

I do not want to see that sort of corruption introduced into New Zealand. And of course I do not want to see our fundamental standards of justice eroded so that our political parties can grub for votes. Some things are simply too important to be political footballs, and justice is one of them.

6/24/2005 01:35:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Couldn't agree more, I/S.

6/24/2005 01:39:00 pm  
Blogger Lucyna said...

It's pretty damn scarey. What's the bet that it being related to "drugs" is not part of the legislation.

"May you live in interesting times" is supposed to be a curse.

6/24/2005 05:54:00 pm  
Blogger Idiot/Savant said...

Lucyna: The trigger for asset forfeiture is "serious criminal activity", defined as anything carrying a penalty of over five years in jail, or anything suspected of erning more than $30,000. This obviously covers serious drug offences such as importation and conspiracy to supply, but it includes a hell of a lot else besides.

6/25/2005 11:13:00 pm  
Blogger Lucyna said...

Thanks for that, Idiot. Doesn't make me feel any better, though.

6/27/2005 05:37:00 pm  

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