Monday, July 17, 2006
A spokesperson for the Minister of Justice refused to give a reason for the bill’s withdrawal, saying only that there were “a couple of procedural issues that need to be dealt with”.
The bill would establish a non-conviction-based asset forfeiture regime, which would allow the government to confiscate the assets of those suspected of involvement in serious crime. Suspected criminals would be required to prove on the balance of probabilities that their assets were legally acquired or else forfeit them to the crown. No criminal conviction would be required.
The scheme has attracted criticism from both sides of the House, with the Green Party calling it “an affront to the principles of justice and law”, and the National Party demanding a much tougher regime. Given the stated positions of parties on the bill, the most likely reason for its withdrawal is that the government does not have a majority to pass it in its present form.