The police have admitted that they abused their road-safety powers to collect intelligence on people democratically organising to change the law against physician-asisted suicide. But in doing so, they expose a fundamental problem with their whole operation:
But now, after the story was broken by Stuff, Inspector Chris Bensemann supplied a written statement confirming the checkpoint was to "identify people attending an Exit International meeting in Lower Hutt".
He said police had a duty of care and a "responsibility to the community to investigate any situation where we have reasonable grounds to suspect that persons are being assisted in the commission of suicide".
"Police are responsible for enforcing New Zealand's laws, and currently suicide or encouraging/helping someone to commit suicide - is illegal in New Zealand."
He confirmed the operation was conducted via a breath-testing checkpoint near the location of the meeting.
Spot the problem? Suicide is not a crime in New Zealand, and hasn't been for over a century. And its drawing a very long bow to call democratic advocacy aiding and abetting suicide. The police have overstepped the mark here, abusing their powers to try and enforce laws which haven't been on the books for decades. They need to be reined in,and told very clearly to stop trying to interfere with our democracy.
(Meanwhile, I look forward to them being sued for this, because it seems to be the only way they learn anything...)