Sroubek must go now, Jacinda

Dear Prime Minister

Re: Karel Sroubek

I am writing this to you regarding the activities of Czech national Karel Sroubek.

You are as well aware as I am that lying to border officials or any officials for that matter is a serious offence. Mr Karel Sroubek would have been aware of it himself when he approached New Zealand border officials for the first time back in 2003 that he must be honest with the authorities.

As we have now seen that was not the case. Mr Sroubek has conducted himself in a way that opens valid questions about his intentions. He claimed to be getting away from corrupt Czech authorities and that his life would be in danger were he to go back. He arrived on a false passport under the name Jan Antolik and was granted residency in 2008. He built a new life as a kick boxer, a gang associate – something that would immediately generate police interest – and as a businessman importing drink.

Yet Mr Sroubek continued to commit offences. He was caught importing 5kg of MDMA, which is used to make ecstasy and sentenced to 5 years and 9 months. A Parole Board hearing in October declined him release from prison, saying his story was long winded and manifestly untruthful.

Now, I have no idea what you heard or when you heard it. I am trusting that you have been and will continue to be totally honest about Mr Sroubek and the allegations surrounding him. I am trusting that Mr Lees-Galloway was totally truthful in his conduct as the Minister responsible in this matter so far and that he, like you, will continue to be totally honest about what has happened and is going to happen. New Zealanders have been quite clear that they are not impressed with this case. As Prime Minister you told New Zealanders to read between the lines. They did and found that they have doubts about the whole case.

Mr Lees-Galloway sent Mr Sroubek a letter stating the conditions of his and warned Mr Sroubek. The warning was that should evidence of activities contrary to what the Minister had been told come to light, his residency would be void and he would be potentially eligible for deportation again.

I accept that when people leave countries where they allege persecution one has to consider the severity of the danger they are in. I accept that hasty departures in such situations mean one might not have had time to get their immigration documentation in order.

But as a New Zealand citizen, tax payer and law abiding person I want to be very clear with you and your Government, including Mr Lees-Galloway now. Mr Sroubek had had multiple chances to come clean about his activities and history in past brushes with immigration authorities. Mr Lees-Galloway gave Mr Sroubek a final chance to comeĀ  clean. He has failed to do so.

Mr Sroubek has had his chances. He lied multiple times. He has committed crimes serious enough to give him significant jail time and the Parole Board in October declined his release How and why would New Zealanders, the authorities or the Government of New Zealand want to trust him now?

Deport him. That is all.

I thank you for your co-operation on this matter.


Inconvenient facts undermine all sides in Karel Sroubek case

An array of facts have come to light that could be considered politically inconvenient to all sides in the case of Karel Sroubek, a Czech national who has been convicted of drug smuggling, and quite bizarrely allowed to remain in New Zealand as resident. The revelation that new information has come to light on the case, has caused the Minister for Immigration, Iain Lees-Galloway to immediately review the case.

National Party leader Simon Bridges says that Mr Lees-Galloway should quit his Ministerial portfolio’s as he has shown himself to be unfit to make an appropriate decision.

Mr Bridges omits to acknowledge that one of Mr Lees-Galloway’s predecessors, Dr Jonathan Coleman, former National Party M.P., and one time Minister of Immigration in 2011 permitted Mr Sroubek to enter New Zealand then. Dr Coleman most probably knew of his circumstances,

Mr Sroubek claims that the Czech police attitude to him endangers his safety and that corruption in the Czech police force meant it is more appropriate to flee to a foreign jurisdiction (New Zealand). He did this on a false passport. He then got convicted for importing $375,000 worth of MDMA which is used to make Ecstasy. Mr Sroubek also has had several brushes with New Zealand Police. All of this he has admitted.

However Mr Lees-Galloway told Parliament this afternoon that more information has come to light which he is reviewing with urgency.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told people to read between the lines on Mr Sroubek’s case.

The people did read between the lines and the overwhelming majority think a big mistake was made trusting the story Mr Sroubek offered. Other than Mr Lees-Galloway and his colleagues including Ms Ardern, I have yet to see anyone write in defence of Mr Sroubek.

Mr Lees-Galloway, tried to be honest with Parliament by immediately informing it of new information this afternoon. In doing so, he was trying to repair some of the damage tha would have been caused when this all went public several days ago.

Except that the new information – should it further implicate Mr Sroubek – will in the minds of New Zealanders make Mr Lees-Galloway’s decision making look like the shambles it has been. How could they have confidence in him after that?

Let us admit this much now. No one at this rate is going to come out of it squeaky clean, especially given that ever since Mr Lees-Galloway told New Zealand that he was approving residency for this convicted criminal, the public reaction has been overwhelmingly hostile for very obvious reasons. Mr Sroubek would have an almost impossible task finding work, establishing himself as a reputable person and his nature suggests that more brushes with the blue arm of the law in New Zealand are a certainty.

New Zealand should save itself from a potentially messy and very costly situation now by ending Mr Sroubek’s residency and deporting him forthwith. There is no other way this can end appropriately.

Iain Lees-Galloway’s big mistake

Recently a case involving a Czech national convicted on drug smuggling charges came to light. It did so because Minister for Immigration, Iain Lees-Galloway decided that the claim by Karel Sroubek, who was convicted of importing $375,000 in drugs, that he faced undue danger if deported back to the Czech Republic was indeed credible.

Mr Sroubek was due to have been deported after finishing his sentence at Auckland South Prison. Instead Mr Lees-Galloway has decided Mr Sroubek shall under “strict” conditions be allowed residency instead.

Perhaps Mr Lees-Galloway thought he was being sensible. Perhaps he thought he was doing New Zealand’s humanitarian reputation a favour. Perhaps he even thought there would somehow be a downside to not letting Karel Sroubek in.

Whatever the case – and perhaps Czech officials were corrupt, or otherwise not able to be relied on to properly handle the case against Mr Sroubek – the risks are in the public perception too high to let him stay. In my assessment the “strict” conditions that Mr Lees-Galloway put on him are laughable and if Mr Sroubek really is to stay here, they need to be tightened drastically. He has the following conditions imposed on him by order of Mr Lees-Galloway as Minister of Immigration:

  1. No criminal offending in New Zealand or elsewhere in the next five years*
  2. No fraudulent use of ID in the next five years
  3. Not to provide misleading information or conceal information from the authorities

*Wow. Not doing something people should not be doing anyway? WOW!!!! I mean really???

IF those are serious conditions, then I guess the following ones that I think are more appropriate would be considered draconian. Yet I think there are probably many New Zealanders who think even my conditions are lenient and in some respects, they are probably right.

At the very least the following conditions should be imposed in addition to the ones that actually were:

  1. Mr Sroubek be restricted to a particular police monitored address
  2. Have a tracking bracelet
  3. Report to the local police station until otherwise advised – say once a week
  4. Failure to comply with any one or more of these voids the residency and unless it is found that Mr Sroubek’s life is in immediate danger, are grounds for deportation

Right now, I am not in the camp of Mr Lees-Galloway. The Minister does have explaining to do to Parliament about the conditions that Mr Sroubek is subject to. The Minister should take counsel on the matter, if for no other reason than because the person concerned is subject to very serious offences that in some national jurisdictions include the death penalty. And the Prime Minister would be well advised to stand him down if he does not.

Meth houses not so methed up as New Zealand thinks

A report into how New Zealand houses are tested for methamphetamine has delivered some stunning results. For years it has been thought that a house contaminated with methamphetamine would need to be gutted and everything in it thrown out. But, with the report suggesting that those in the methamphetamine testing and clean up industry knowing that the houses were safe all along, it is either game over for the industry or time for a complete overhaul of how it works.

The results are stunning. The Government Chief Scientist Peter Gluckman’s report has found no evidence that there is any third hand risk to tenants in houses where methamphetamine has been consumed. In the years that this has been known, but not admitted, possibly several thousand houses in New Zealand that could have been used for housing some of our neediest and most vulnerable people have been unnecessarily off limits, pending gutting or complete demolition. It has been suggested that there may be as many as 670 houses that are actually not contaminated by methamphetamine in the perceived way that led to them being shut down.

Not suprisingly advocates for tenants evicted as a result of the methamphetamine are insisting on compensation. Their reasoning stems from the fact that the tenants would have lost their possessions in being forced to move out from contaminated property and are therefore justified in seeking some sort of reparation.

The financial cost of getting a house tested is just the start. A basic test to determine whether methamphetamine has used in the house might set one back $200. Depending on the materials used in the houses construction and decoration it might cost anywhere between $7,500 and $40,000 to get the methamphetamine removed from any suspect houses.

But from whom will this reparation come? The Government has already suggested that it will not be offering any – a standpoint that I think may be challenged in a court of law in good time. The methamphetamine testing industry may have suffered a fatal blow with this report, which insiders admitted they knew was going to come sooner or later and that many were aware that the testing regime had set a very low threshhold.

So, who is to blame for the lack of oversight that might have prevented this happening in the first place? Judith Collins, National spokesperson for Housing says that the previous Government was acting on advice from experts familiar with methamphetamine. Yet when interviewed on Breakfast by Jack Tame, Ms Collins said she did not know who these experts were. Ms Collins also said that many agencies used the information supplied to make decisions and the decisions made at the time were justified on the basis that if one supposed that it had been ignored and risk turned out to be true, then the conversation would be about negligence.

Negligence or not, the testing industry needs to be held to account before it can be trusted to do any more work.


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.