NZ should avoid bad US customs


Congratulations on

Abraham Alawi

for speaking out about being repeatedly singled out and searched by Customs when returning from overseas.

This is a common complaint from NZ residents and citizens of Arab origin.

As Abraham said on radio this morning, “many people are being victimised, but don’t speak”. Since becoming a citizen Abraham has felt more confident to speak out.

Listening to Abraham this morning I was concerned to hear that he hadn’t yet got his computer back from customs – four days after they seized it.

It is quite wrong for a New Zealand citizen to have their computer snatched by Customs and its contents inspected unless there is real evidence of serious criminality – which seems extremely unlikely in this case.

Customs seems to be going

beyond its mandate

, which makes me worried about what they will do with the extended powers they may get under the

Search and Surveillance Bill

currently before Parliament.

It’s good that Abraham has gone to the

Human Rights Commission

for a thorough investigation of all the civil liberties issues this case throws up.