US gets access to NZ security databases

A new agreement between New Zealand and the United States will help detect and deter criminals who try to operate internationally, Justice Minister Judith Collins says.


The Agreement on Enhancing Cooperation in Preventing and Combating Crime supports New Zealand’s security against cross-border criminal activities, particularly organised crime and terrorism.


“Increasingly, criminal activity spans international borders, requiring close cooperation between law enforcement and immigration agencies around the world,” Ms Collins says.


“This agreement recognises information sharing is essential in the fight against global crime. It also builds on a long history of cooperation between our two countries on issues of law enforcement, border management and security.”


New Zealand is one of 36 countries to sign such agreements with the United States, as part of the US’s visa waiver programme. Nearly 130,000 New Zealand residents travelled to the US in the year to July 2013.


Ms Collins says cooperation between New Zealand and the United States has been vital to enhancing our security and protecting New Zealanders from transnational crime, which can range from child sexual abuse online to drug smuggling.


The new agreement will allow enforcement, immigration and border authorities in both countries to share information, as permitted by each country’s law, to prevent, detect and investigate crimes with a penalty of one year or more imprisonment.


The agreement will now be considered by the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee. Legislation is required to incorporate the treaty obligations into domestic law.