The High Court of New Zealand Tuesday held that the classification of a deportee as a returning prisoner and the subsequent imposition of special conditions on him amounted to double jeopardy and is therefore unlawful and contrary to the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. The deportee, “G,” was convicted of two drug offences in Australia in 2014, and served his sentence before being deported back to New Zealand.The Returning Offenders (Management and Information) Act was introduced in 2015. Judge Gwyn found that the act does not have the “clear legislative intent” required for it to be applied retrospectively. Gwyn noted that, when the act underwent statutory review, retrospective and double jeopardy issues were raised but legislators did not amend the act. Gwyn found the special conditions imposed under the act to be a punishment, so applying them to someone who had already been punished for the offence in question violates s26(2) of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.The special conditions imposed on G included: (1) required rehabilitation assessments, treatments and programmes; (2) a prohibition on the use, possession or consumption of prohibited drugs; and (3) the mandatory delivery of DNA samples, fingerprints and identification to police. The High Court’s Tuesday decision ordered police to destroy the samples provided or remove them from police databases. The determination of G being a returning prisoner must also be quashed.It remains to be seen whether this decision will be appealed or if the legislation will be amended considering the ruling’s far-reaching implications for other deportees.

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