Harawira completely wrong about executing Chinese drug dealers

The comments by former Maori M.P. and Mana Party leader Hone Harawira that New Zealand should execute methamphetamine dealers from China are completely wrong.

There is no doubt that New Zealand is a nation that has a major drug problem. Methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, cannabis – all of them are serious contributors to crime, declines in important socio-economic indicators, affect peoples ability to get jobs. Cannabis is perhaps the least problematic of these, but all need a comprehensive policy for dealing with all of them. It needs to deal with how we educate people, treat those on it or who are a victim of it, those who have recovered but now have problems finding jobs.

Much of the crime wave of violent offences striking New Zealand at the moment is likely to have to do with drugs – most likely finding ways of funding drug addictions, or being able to source money for paying back drug debts.

However executing Chinese methamphetamine dealers is the wrong way to go about it and sends the wrong message. I would however go one step further and say that Mr Harawira is completely wrong about using the death penalty at all. It is nothing less than state sanctioned murder and there is no justification in my book for it.

Whilst the mechanisms that I am about to mention might already exist in law, how well are they used for their intended purpose? Are they even used? I am talking about:

  • Being permanently denied the right to hold a passport – no country is going to want another nations violent criminals
  • Confiscation of 100% of property gained using drug money as well as and in particular any cash – use the proceeds to help the victims with court/medical/other costs
  • Being subject to police monitoring even after the sentences are finished and the corrections department is obligated to release the prisoner/s in question
  • Non New Zealanders are deported and permanently barred from entering the country

If these instruments exist, how well are they used? There is little point in changing the law if they are a) well used and b) effective.

Part of Mr Harawira’s political repertoire has always been to speak his mind by saying provocative things, and then defend them and there is no doubt in this case, he has achieved that. It is a piece of race baiting in some respects by singling out Chinese dealers, and ignoring home grown ones and their supply chains. Perhaps Mr Harawira means well. It is certainly a departure from what I expected him to say on the issue – I was not expecting him to advocate for a reduction in penalties, but violating human rights statutes that New Zealand has ratified is not acceptable in any shape or form.

Theresa May announces her own War on Terrorism

So, British Prime Minister Theresa May has announced her own “War on Terrorism”. Two days after the attack on the Ariana Grande concert, we hear that the British Prime Minister has decided that Britain has its own “War on Terrorism” to wage.
My immediate reaction was, how is this going to help? If it goes the way of the American “War on Terror”, it is going end in disaster.
There is so much western Governments do not understand about terrorism, or they do understand it, but their desire to look tough in the face of danger means they break every rule in the book.
One of the most irksome is terrorists want mass media coverage, notoriety, glory – call what you may – and we hand it to them in gigabytes. We rush to cover their attention grabbing acts, to hear the politicians vow to get tough, to slam through poorly thought out knee jerk laws. In this deeply interconnected world, where an e-mail or text message can travel around the world in a matter of seconds, where I can post things on Facebook and my brothers American in-laws will see it almost immediately, it is impossible to get away from the coverage.
Yes it is dreadful. Yes we should be shocked that totally innocent people were killed and maimed, but it is time to take a stand and ask where are we going wrong – why is this not only happening, but getting more and more frequent? The commonest answers “because they hate us” are grotesquely oversimplified. Without writing a PhD on the causes of terrorism though, it is brazenly obvious that the western approach is failing or has failed. So let us have a look at why.
Those laws, those fearful reactions, that horror is precisely what the terrorists want. They want to create a climate of fear and the Government – not just the U.S. and British Governments – are rushing blindly into the trap.
Another is a complete, abject and possibly quite deliberate failure to report critically on the War on Terrorism. There is a shocking tendency to use vague generic language – I mean how often have you heard “A top/key/senior al-Qaida commander has been killed by a __________ in _________”. The vagaries are to lull the public into a false sense of progress being made; a false sense of this can be won”.
The media are supposed to be the ally of free people. They are supposed to critique the Government, report big stories such as inappropriate use of tax payer money, perjury, dodgy weapons deals such as the one between Donald Trump’s administration and Saudi Arabia and so on.
The third is the public rush to believe uncritically the politicians who espouse toughness against terrorism; who ram laws through like a medieval battering ram. We cannot win when the public cannot have a say on the very laws that are supposed to protect them (“We the people” and all that, America…).
Well, yes it can be won, but it sure ain’t gonna be won by waging aggressive wars in foreign lands your governments and the military establishments under their command know nothing about – and probably care even less.
The real ways to beat terrorism are not sexy, for the most part do not need cluster bombs, cruise missiles, or ground invasions. It certainly does not need regimes that care not a jot about humanity to be propped up by the supposed leaders of the free world, or for the clock to be continually banging past thirteen as George Orwell spins in his grave, realizing 1984 has become a manual of some grotesque sort.
The west can beat terrorism, but we are going 180ยบ in the opposite direction to that which we should be going.

Christchurch City Council must understand prostitution in order to solve it

It is the worlds oldest industry for a reason. Many an elected official has railed against the red light district in their city. Many a law has been passed in an attempt to either outlaw or drive it underground. And just as many times moves to shut down a perceived moral disgrace have failed because the person/people whose brainchild it was completely did not understand how and why this industry exists in the first place. And thus prostitution will remain a societal issue until the social mechanics of it are understood and fantastical thinking driven by morality gives way to practicality.

Once again there is pressure on Christchurch City Council to address the issue of prostitution in the central city. Residents in St. Albans are frustrated with the activities of sex workers in the upper part of the street. They want to see the bylaws enforced, and who can blame them. This time there is concern that moving the sex workers along might breach the Bill of Rights. But at the same time, if this is an attempt to drive it underground, like all of the attempts before it, this one will be likely to fail too.

No doubt many of you have been coming home from or going to something, and your route has taken you through the local red light district. You might see a few scantily clad girls, some looking rather young, and a few older ones. Did you ever wonder how and why they are there?

Whilst I would never use their services, I have wondered at times about how the girls on Manchester Street fare. It is a rough business, looked down upon by many people. It is possible to understand the frustration of local business owners with having to clean up used condoms, cigarettes and so forth from their premises, and local residents whose houses are within clear viewing distance of any activity on the street. The dregs of society come out often in prostitution, with all sorts of unsavoury types attached. Some are so-called minders, who actually end up being not much more than vigilante types. Some are drug users. Many of the girls might have dabbled in drugs themselves, or be owing debts.

So, how did these girls get here? The stories are as sad as they are true. Some were from broken families and bounced around from one foster family to another foster family, with no real love or guidance. They dropped out of school and could not get a job. Some had gotten into trouble with the police. Some had been raped multiple times by strangers, or plied with alcohol to the point they were unable to think or act for themselves. In post-earthquake Christchurch many live in abandoned houses and get arrested for trespassing, but back they go because the Christchurch winter is too inhospitable to be on the street.

Mellory Manning is a tragic case. She was a prostitute who was raped, beaten and murdered because she owed a debt that she couldn’t clear fast enough. Although the police caught the offender who is now doing a lengthy jail term it highlights the risks these girls take to survive. It also highlights graphically the problems with social services and society at large that everyone in positions of authority say they want to tackle, but none actually seem to have a clue how to do so, or the will power to find out how.

What I would like to see is a couple of safe houses get set up in anonymous locations where the girls can ply their trade. As a way of funding it, the girls could give a small percentage of their earnings to council appointed landlord of sorts, who keeps the place clean. A community group with a board that has a police community officer, plus a doctor/nurse, and a counsellor might need to be set up to give oversight. Because this is a social problem that might need City Council involvement, an elected councillor with City Council select committee oversight might be of use as well.

We will never stop prostitution, but if we can give those who genuinely want to get out of it, a way of going clean, maybe containment, which is the best outcome likely, can be achieved. But going on a moral crusade and trying to drive it underground is just asking for an even bigger and uglier problem.

The case for whistle blower protection legislation

The recent case of Joanne Harrison, a lady who has been convicted of taking $725,000 from the Ministry of Transport and has gone to jail for significant fraudulent activity, had another revelation the other day. It was revealed that a few days after she was told she was under investigation and her access to the building where she worked would be revoked, Ms Harrison tried to enter the building to interfere with documents. Upon failing to get in she asked a contractor to access the building for her.

The employees who blew the whistle on Ms Harrison and her deceit were allegedly not treated well by their employers according to New Zealand First leader Winston Peters. Mr Peters. Labour M.P. Sue Moroney also questioned the treatment of two people who were thought to have raised red flags, and then found themselves jobless just a couple of months later in a review Ms Harrison had a hand in.

It is true that whistle blower protection legislation already exists in New Zealand. However it is undermined by a grossly inadequate set of protections for anyone who feels the need to report serious wrong doing. It is totally unenforced to the point that very few people – if anyone at all – have actually felt safe enough to come forward under the legislation and report serious wrong doing in their place of employment. And it is also under resourced in terms of help that can be offered those considering reporting serious wrong doing.

Insider activity can devastate companies. Of that there should be no doubt. But what happens when the people who see the most damaging activity are too intimidated to report it? What happens when a culture of fear and/or corruption that makes it too dangerous to report such activity, or the activity is reported by people to their superiors, who then sweep it under the rug?

Despite corporates having practices in place with the intention of making the process safe and easy for such complaints to be reported, there is still the risk that someone in a position of authority, perhaps with undeclared interests to hide, will clamp down on a whistle blower. They will attempt to shut them down through bribes, intimidation and harassment – it can be called bullying, but if the attempts at shutting a complainant succeed it is also an attempt to pervert the natural course of justice.

A whistle blower might continue working at the place where the activity is happening. Why should they leave or be made to fear coming to work each day, fear doing their job, because someone in a position of authority is corrupted?

New Zealand does not necessarily need a General Auditing Office like the United States, but it does need an agency where qualified people with impeccable ethics, acting in a neutral manner are able to receive a complaint, disseminate it and determine whether the company, person or people in question have a case to answer. It needs to be networked with other agencies, such as the Serious Fraud Office, the Police, and others who can investigate and if necessary, bring about a criminal prosecution.

Because whistle blowers are not going to be potentially at risk when they blow the whistle, there needs to be protections in place. In the same way the police protect witnesses to violent crimes or gang violence from intimidation and harassment, there needs to be appropriate protection for whistle blowers from the moment they report the offences through to them either being dismissed or the perpetrators found guilty and sentenced. Even then they might not be safe if in the course of prosecuting, associates of the accused or others scared that their own misconduct might be exposed, decide to track down the whistle blower.

How organized crime is exploiting South Pacific nations

New Zealanders think of the South Pacific as their backyard. In our thousands we go to Fiji, Rarotonga, Samoa and Tonga each year. Still more head for Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, whilst others head for Tahiti. The culture they say is easy going, the weather great (except in the cyclone season)and the beaches are magnificent.

But against this backdrop, there are some quite disturbing aspects to law and order in these nations – or rather a lack of law and order. Many might remember the Solomon Islands intervention last decade, where the archipelago southeast of Papua New Guinea was subject to lawlessness and roving gangs. New Zealand and Australia put together a task force of police units to tackle the core problems before the nation became a failed state.

The Solomon Islands case is just one example from a region where organized crime takes on many forms and is growing both in sophistication and scale. A toxic combination of money laundering, drugs, shell businesses among other crime types means that the south Pacific is not the paradise portrayed in the media.

The Governments of these nations are among the weakest in the world when it comes to dealing with organized crime. Part of the problem is that their population base is small, meaning the available tax paying base to fund law enforcement is tiny. Fiji has a population of 800,000 people, a bit more than half the size of Auckland. Samoa has a population of around 190,000 or about half the size of Christchurch, whilst Tonga’s population is about 105,000.

Another part of the problem is a distinct lack of transparency in the Governments and law enforcement agencies of these nations. New Zealand might be in the top five most transparent nations according to Transparency International, but Kiribati, Tonga and the Solomon Islands perform quite poorly. The latter is ruled by an absolute monarch, who also controls the treasury and the judiciary in what is the only remaining absolute monarchy on the planet. It was highlighted brutally in 2006 by violent riots with looting and arson burning down the central business district of Nukualofa in protest at the lack of democracy in the country.

Outside influences such as China do not help either. Whilst the Chinese offer to develop infrastructure and provide jobs, the companies that do the work are all based in China and nearly all of the profits made from the projects carried out go back there. The details of the deals done between politicians and company executives are rarely made public. Thus little is known about what international and local laws might have been breached in the deals.

So, what could New Zealand do to assist South Pacific Island nations in dealing with organized crime? Find out in the next article.