Arrive without meat, you would be fine

Arrive with meat, you would be fined

Ram Sastry

Two women of Indian origin were recently charged for violating the Bio-Security Act.

In the first case, the defendant was ordered to pay $20,000 fine for importing meat. She said that she could not afford the fine and was obliged to do 200 hours of community work.

In the second case, the woman was charged for importing pork sausages disguised as lime pickle. Following a strong legal intervention, she was discharged without conviction but was fined $2000.

The Bio Security Act 1993 aims to eradicate unwanted organism from entering the country. This is an important legislation to protect our borders.

The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) is in charge of Bio-Security.

Passenger Arrival Card

All food entering New Zealand must be declared to MPI officers to enable them to assess risks involved. Most of us have either witnessed signs saying, “Dump or Declare” at the International Arrival lounges. The MPI relies heavily on passengers’ honesty in declaring that their baggage is free from any organic material.

The important thing here is one’s integrity and honesty.

Despite attempts to guard our borders through control measures, a small number of passengers try to avoid detection and bring items that are not allowed.

As a result, there have been several Bio-Security breaches and on occasions, widespread eradication of pest organism has been carried out.

The Penalties

The Bio-Security Act prescribes strict penalties for violation of its provisions. The main thrust of the Act is deterrence. Anyone knowingly attempting to possess unauthorised goods, namely, meat sausages, is liable for imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or a fine not exceeding $100,000 or both.

If anyone knowingly provides a false or misleading statement to a Quarantine Officer, he or she is liable for imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or a fine not exceeding $100,000 or both.

Food and Mouth Disease

The biggest threat to New Zealand is Foot and Mouth disease, a contagious viral disease that affects all cloven-hooved animals such as cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and deer. Although New Zealand never suffered this disease, it is vulnerable if entry of meat and other banned organic products is not checked and destroyed.

No second chance:

The key factor to note is that the Bio-Security Act 1993 is vital for our employment, trade and GDP.  Therefore, any violation of the Act will meet with severe deterrence.  The sentencing regime is always towards “deterrence and there are no second chances in relation to such offending.”

The harm caused, if it happens, would be irreversible.

Ram Sastry is a Barrister specialising in Criminal, Immigration, Traffic and Family Matters. 

Email: sastryrambhatla@gmail.com

The above should be read only as a guideline and not as specific advice. Readers must seek appropriate legal opinion from approved channels for their individual case requirements. Rama Sastry and Indian Newslink absolve themselves of any liability in this connection.

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