29 Mar 2010

United Nations urges NZ to consider giving up tasers

6:09 am on 29 March 2010

The United Nations is urging the New Zealand Government to consider giving up the use of tasers.

The UN comment comes in a response by its Human Rights Committee to a report given by the Government almost two weeks ago as required under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The committee says the state should consider relinquishing tasers, and if not, make sure strict guidelines are followed.

Justice Minister Simon Power says he argued long and hard in front of United Nations officials that police here should keep the right to use tasers.

Mr Power says he reminded the committee New Zealand's police officers are not armed, and explained the regulations on taser use.

He says even though the committee stuck with its criticism of tasers, the Government is convinced its policies are correct.

The Police Association says the committee is out of touch. It says officers are being assaulted in greater numbers than ever before and for many in the front line the taser can't come soon enough.

The association's president, Greg O'Connor, says the UN statement about tasers is absurd.

"Perhaps they should be a little better informed about the state of violence against police officers in New Zealand," he says.

Taser on pregnant US woman justified, court rules

In the United States, a Federal appeals court has ruled three Seattle police officers were justified when they used a stun gun on a pregnant woman who refused to sign a traffic ticket.

Malaika Brooks was driving her son to school in 2004 when she was stopped for speeding.

The officers used a taser three times when she refused to get out of her car.

A panel of judges ruled 2-1 the officers were justified in using force.

The dissenting judge called the ruling absurd, saying the officers had no authority to arrest Mrs Brooks, let alone use a taser on a non-threatening woman who was seven months pregnant.