Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesperson Garth McVicar has accused the Government of being soft on crime, after a third major earthquake rocked the Canterbury region this week.
Monday’s two quakes inflicted further damage upon a region struggling to recover from the events of September and February, and caused further distress to people already seriously traumatised.
Mr McVicar said that the people behind the three major earthquakes had caused untold misery and suffering.
“Whoever is doing this has to be stopped, for the good of our people. How can our politicians just stand by doing nothing while our second largest city slowly dies? Do the tears in the eyes of the children of Christchurch mean nothing to these people?
“It’s time we got tough on natural disasters. Let’s send a message to the people behind earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, cyclones and other callous natural disasters, that their violence won’t be tolerated anymore.”
However, Auckland University Law Professor Jill Tamarillo cautioned against any sudden law change, saying that evidential issues would make any prosecution for committing a natural disaster problematic, even if laws were passed to prohibit earthquakes.
“In many cases it won’t be clear who’s responsible for an earthquake,” said Professor Tamarillo.
“We often call these events ‘acts of God’, but which god? The prosecution will have an almost impossible task trying to prove that a particular disaster was committed by say Jehovah rather than Allah.”
Professor Tamarillo also questioned the deterrent effect of any sentence imposed on a natural disaster offender.
“How does one punish God effectively? Our prisons just aren’t suited to housing deities. We also know that for many criminals prison is little more than a finishing school, and that when they finish their sentence they are even more dangerous.”
But Garth McVicar has slammed critics of the Sensible Sentencing Trust’s call for “get-tough” policies.
“We’re been told for years by these liberal pointy-headed ivory tower types that it can’t be done and that it shouldn’t be done, and the end result is a society where people live in constant terror of natural disasters attacking them in the dead of night.
“You ask anyone in Christchurch right now what they think about the wave of natural disasters hitting them, and they’ll tell you that they’re sick of it.
“If politicians, academics and liberal do-gooders would just get off their high horses and meet some of the victims of these crimes, they’d see for themselves how much our current legal system panders to criminals and how utterly broken it is.”
Mr McVicar also said that further earthquakes could have been prevented had the Government adopted a zero-tolerance policy towards natural disasters several years ago.
“A broken-windows intervention strategy could have saved a lot of lives. But more importantly, if a magnitude six or greater earthquake had been included as a ‘strike’ offence when the three-strikes legislation was passed in 2010, we could right now be throwing the book at these criminal scumbags.”