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Maori Party Warns Young Men Will Fight Back

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Oct 29 NZPA - The Maori Party is warning young Maori will fight back against police trying to take a DNA swab.

Parliament yesterday passed the Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Amendment Bill, which will enable police to take samples from people charged with a range of serious offences, wider than the present category.

From 2011, they will be allowed to take DNA samples from anyone they intend charging with an imprisonable offence.

Consent will not be needed, and samples will be able to be taken without judicial approval.

But Maori Party MP Rahui Katene warned of the potential for trouble with young Maori men.

"They already distrust the police and (if) the police want to take a swab, they're not going to know what is going on at all," she told Radio New Zealand.

"So they are, of course, going to fight back."

Britain had the world's largest database; it held the DNA of 75 percent of young black men compared with 22 percent of white men, Ms Katene said.

She believed a similar situation could happen in New Zealand.

"They're picking up particularly young Maori guys and taking them in, whether they have reason to suspect them of having committed a crime or not," she said.

"With this, they can take DNA on suspicion basically of having committed a crime, and keep it."

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei agreed Maori were more likely to suffer under the legislation.

Labour supported it but said there were concerns about how it would be implemented.

Labour MP Moana Mackey said it was vital that extra funding was made available for DNA testing through crown research institute, ESR.

National Party MP Paul Quinn said the party was comfortable safeguards were in place to ensure the bill could be safely enacted.

The DNA powers were a National Party election promise and the bill was given its first reading in February.

At that time, Attorney-General Chris Finlayson issued a report saying the bill appeared to be inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act's provisions against unreasonable search and seizure.

During the third reading debate Labour MPs said they were worried about the extent of the powers that were being given to the police and MP Charles Chauvel tried to amend the bill so a judicial warrant would be needed.

The amendment was voted down and the bill was passed into law on a vote of 108 to 13, with the Greens and Maori Party opposing.

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