'There should be no right to silence' - Call for caregivers to be charged when family stays silent over child abuse

The Sensible Sentencing Trust is again calling for a law change, to make it a criminal offence for family members to stay silent in the wake of child abuse.

Their renewed push, in a statement today, comes as an Auckland four-month-old baby girl recovers from horror injuries, including 16 fractures, injuries police say were "non-accidental".

NZ Herald is reporting that the baby's family has been un-cooperative with police since her injuries were discovered on arrival at Middlemore Hospital on February 18.

In a release this afternoon, Scott Guthrie of the Sensible Sentencing Trust says: "The question must be asked, what are we actually doing to reduce the violent abuse of our children in New Zealand?"

"What normal human being thinks this kind of behaviour is remotely acceptable?

"Here we have a defenceless child beaten and tortured over a lengthy period of time. This is clearly not a case of the child accidentally falling down some stairs, this clearly is a case of child abuse at its very worst."

Mr Guthrie said the law had to change so that those who know what took place cannot remain silent without consequences.

"All too often we hear the words the right to silence, when it comes to children being violently beaten and tortured.

"There should be no right to silence. That baby has care givers who live with it on a day to day basis.

"It is those people that should be charged and held to account for the offending until someone tells the truth."

Police call on those who know what happened to do the right thing

Meanwhile police today revealed the horror injuries inflicted on the Howick baby were "non-accidental" and inflicted over a period of time.

They are asking for those who know what happened to speak up.

In speaking today, Detective Senior Sergeant Sutherland revealed the baby had suffered fractures to her skull, ribs, arms and legs.

"Medical staff discovered significant fractures to her body, which included to her skull, ribs, arms and legs," Detective Sutherland said in a statement.

"The fractures have been described by medical experts as being of varying ages and classically associated with non-accidental injury.

"Thankfully, the child is going to make a full recovery however Police are extremely concerned by these injuries and Oranga Tamariki has been notified."

The girl is now in the care of Oranga Tamariki.

"Anyone with information is urged to contact the Counties Manukau Child Protection team on 09 213 8571 or anonymously to the crime stoppers reporting line on 0800 555 111.

"You can also send us a private message on Facebook."

The four-month-old was admitted to Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital in February. Source: 1 NEWS



East Coast forestry company's illegal logging history revealed

The Malaysian owner of a forestry company blamed for tonnes of debris washing up in Tolaga Bay has been fined twice for illegal logging overseas, but it took the Overseas Investment Office nine years to realise.

The penalty could have affected Samling Group's Hikurangi Forest Farm's good character status, but the OIO decided it was too late to take any action.

Separately, a Malaysian billionaire who owns another Tolaga Bay forestry company was granted 24 consents to buy sensitive land between 2005 and 2017, even though another of his companies has faced accusations of environmental and human rights abuses overseas since 2004.

The admission of OIO's tardy response to the Samling's illegal logging fine has prompted calls for the OIO to beef up its monitoring of foreign investors and for changes to the way the good character test is applied.

Hikurangi Forest Farms, owned by Malaysia's Samling Group, was granted consent to buy 22ha of land in Gisborne in May 2007.

Five months later one of Samling's subsidiaries, Barama Company, was fined for illegal logging in Guyana. In January 2008 it was fined again.

The Norwegian Pension Fund quit all its Samling investments in 2010 because of ethical concerns about its operations in Guyana and Malaysia and Samling's palm oil operations in Myanmar were last year accused of illegal deforestation indigenous land grabs and environmental abuses by civil rights groups in that country.

The OIO said it was aware of online reports of the company's practices in Myanmar but it had not been able to verify them.

It only became aware of the illegal logging fines in 2017.

"After considering various matters, including limitation issues and the age of the fine, and how long ago Samling got OIO consent, we considered the fine was too long ago for us to act on this information alone," Land Information New Zealand's Overseas Investment Office manager Vanessa Horne said.

That action could have included forcing the sale of assets owned by Samling.

Meanwhile, a second Malaysian-owned company also implicated in the Tolaga Bay flooding, has continued to buy sensitive land in New Zealand despite its owners facing allegations of human rights and environmental abuses abroad.

Ernslaw One, owned by Malaysia's Tiong family, is one of the three companies whose activities are being investigated by the Gisborne District Council after the June floods.

Its founder Tan Sri Tiong Hiew King made his fortune in forestry and palm oil plantations and his assets here included New Zealand King Salmon, Winstone Pulp and Neil Group.

One of his logging companies Rimbunan Hijau faces accusations of illegal operations and human rights and environmental abuses in Papua New Guinea and Malaysia, first documented by Greenpeace in 2004, and more recently this month by the Oakland Institute.

But it hasn't affected his business in New Zealand with 24 consents to buy sensitive land being granted since 2005.

The Tiong family has been investing in New Zealand for more than 20 years, with more than 90 approved consents to the companies controlled by the family, OIO's Vanessa Horne said.

"For the OIO to take enforcement action after consent has been granted for any breach of a good character condition, it would need to prove that a person is not fit to hold an asset.

"We need to consider the nature of the allegation, the evidence of the allegation and the public interest in taking action, such as the impact on New Zealanders from taking action. The commission of an offence by a person may provide evidence as to whether they are fit to hold an asset. But this is not the only matter the OIO would need to consider," she said.

Both Samling and the Tiong family's Rimbunan Hijau were yesterday named as irresponsible palm oil producers in a report published by Greenpeace.

Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) said the OIO's good character test was not rigorous enough.

"To prove companies are of good character representative of the company usually a New Zealand lawyer has to sign a bit of paper certifying they're of good character - that's it," CAFCA spokesperson Murray Horton said.

Council of Trade Unions policy director Bill Rosenberg said the test also only applied to individuals, not the company itself. But he would like to see that changed.

"If you have companies with a consistent poor record of ignoring good environmental practice, no action can be taken under the current law."

East Coast environmental and indigenous rights advocate Tina Ngata said she was "appalled" to learn of the actions that Hikurangi Forest Farms and Ernslaw One's parent companies were accused of in other countries.

It was up to the OIO to monitor foreign investors more stringently and take action if necessary, she said.

"The OIO need to be taking a better role in monitoring the behaviour of these companies if they allow them into our economy so they don't make these kinds of impacts on our landscape."

It was especially important where public money was used to clean up environments impacted by companies failing to follow good practices, she said.

The OIO had nine permanent staff, up from just two in 2015, so it had more capacity to monitor and enforce consent conditions, including good character requirements, Vanessa Horne said.

Oregon Group declined to comment, and several attempts to contact its Malaysian owner were unsuccessful. Hikurangi Forest Farms and its owner Samling could also not be reached for comment.

By Anusha Bradley

rnz.co.nz

Slash debris after flooding in Tolaga Bay. (Emma Hatton) Source: rnz.co.nz

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Aussie Woolworths taking sewing needles off shelves to combat strawberry-tampering

Supermarket giant Woolworths has taken the extraordinary step of withdrawing sewing needles from its shelves nationally following the fruit tampering crisis.

"We've taken the precautionary step of temporarily removing sewing needles from sale in our stores. The safety of our customers is our top priority," a Woolworths spokeswoman told AAP.

More than 100 reports of tampered fruit are being investigated by police across the country, many of which are thought to be fake or copycat cases.

The drastic decision comes as Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says the "parasites" responsible for spiking strawberries with needles should do hard time in jail.

The Government is rushing legislation through Parliament to ratchet up the maximum penalties for so-called "food terrorists" from 10 to 15 years behind bars.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants the tough sanctions approved before federal politicians depart Canberra today.

The halt comes after needles were found in different brands in Australia. Source: 1 NEWS

"I'm just focused on making sure no idiot goes into a supermarket this weekend and does something ridiculous," Mr Morrison told reporters in Royalla in NSW.

"We've booked the hall in Parliament for the day, we've paid the rent on it, and that means no one goes home until those bills are passed."

Labor will support the bill, but frontbencher Tony Burke wants the laws reviewed after 12 months.

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus agrees, saying there has been very "little time to fully consider what the consequences of this legislation might be."

He told parliament that unintended consequences may occur by including "providing the public with food" in the revised definition of "public infrastructure".

Rebuilding confidence in the strawberry industry is the highest priority, says Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, as he encouraged Australians to continue buying the fruit.

"Grab a punnet for yourself and a punnet for the nation," he said.

More than 100 reports of tampered fruit are being investigated by police across the country, many of which are thought to be fake or copycat cases.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton condemned people being stupid or malicious.

"The police are being driven crazy by all of these hoaxes because all it does is divert their resources away from the main investigation," he told 2GB radio.

Anyone who tampers with food could soon face up to 15 years' jail, in line with child pornography and terror financing offences.

There will also be a new offence of being reckless in causing harm, which will carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

The most serious cases with national security implications will be covered by sabotage offences, with penalties ranging from seven to 25 years' jail.

"The reality is that ... they've got to do some time," Mr Littleproud told ABC radio.

"The one thing that people can do better than government is go and buy strawberries. Stick it up these parasites by going into the supermarkets and buying strawberries."

The Queensland and NSW governments are offering a reward to catch the culprits.

The government is also providing $1 million to make more food safety officials available to increase detection, fast-track recalls and assist the industry to rebuild confidence.

NSW authorities are investigating more than 20 incidents of needles found in strawberries. Source: Breakfast

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Hamilton shooting which left man in hospital was 'targeted attack'

Police say the shooting of a man in Hamilton last night was a "targeted attack".

The incident occurred on Derby Street at approximately 10:25pm yesterday, leaving a 35-year-old man in Waikato Hospital with moderate but not life-threatening injuries.

The man is in a stable condition in a high dependency unit.

Hamilton City Area Commander Inspector Freda Grace said a group was involved in the attack.

"Investigations so far have established a group of offenders arrived at Derby Street and approached a house they believed belonged to the target of their attack and knocked on the door," she said.

"A man who lived at the address opened the door and an altercation occurred. He was uninjured but understandably shaken by the event.

"Following this, the group of offenders went to the house next door. A number of shots were fired and the 35-year-old man they were targeting was hit inside his address.

"The group have then fled the scene in vehicles."

Police are continuing a scene investigation today but it is not yet known whether the incident involves members of organised crime groups.

Inspector Grace says there is nothing to suggest the shooting is connected to a number of serious incidents involving people being harmed across Waikato in recent months.

Police are keen to talk to anyone who was in the area around 10:25pm yesterday who may have witnessed anything suspicious or have information of interest to the investigation.

People can contact Hamilton Police on 07 858 6200 or call Crimestoppers anonymously via 0800 555 111.

The incident took place in Nawton at 10.25pm yesterday – the offender fled the scene by car. Source: Breakfast


Pet food company fined $90k over employee's ill-treatment of bobby calves

The owner of a pet food plant has been sentenced for allowing one of his employees to ill-treat bobby calves.

Alan Cleaver from Te Kauwhata has been sentenced in the Hamilton District Court to six months community detention and 180 hours community work.

His company, Down Cow Limited was fined $90,000 dollars.

Mr Cleaver has also been banned for five years from having anything to do with the ownership or care of farm animals.

Charges were laid against Mr Cleaver, the company and an employee following secret video taken by the animal rights group, Farmwatch in 2015.

The employee, Noel Erickson was originally sentenced in 2016 to home detention but this was reduced on appeal by two years in prison.

Noel Erickson's actions were exposed by TVNZ's Sunday programme and caused widespread anger and disgust. Source: 1 NEWS

www.rnz.co.nz

Calf. Source: 1 NEWS