Monday, August 22, 2011


Back in February, police officers in Christchurch arrested Arie Smith, who has Asperger's syndrome, for "looting" two lightbulbs from a damaged building. Smith was beaten, jailed, and has since been subjected to a vindictive prosecution, despite repeated and strong hints from the judge that he be discharged without conviction. Media critics of the police's behaviour have themselves been subjected to investigation, in an effort to stifle scrutiny and criticism.

Now, all charges against Smith have been dropped. It’s a good outcome, but it raises the question of why things were allowed to go so far. The police need to explain their disgraceful behaviour over this case (which has included subjecting Smith and his partner to a non-association order, effectively breaking up their family by state force). And the government needs to apologise for it.