New Zealand man stopped at border because of unpaid fines

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

The first person to be stopped at an international airport because of unpaid fines happened yesterday afternoon (NZDT) at the Auckland International Airport, New Zealand.

The person, who wasn't named, was stopped because of the new legislation called the 'Collection of Fines at Airports' or more simply: Pay or Stay. He was forced to pay NZ$3,750 in unpaid reparations since 1986. "The person intercepted owed $3,750 of reparation for an offence in 1986 and had made no payments since late 1987," said Rick Barker, minister for the courts in New Zealand.

"Once intercepted, the individual was given the option to pay the full amount owing. He did and was subsequently allowed to travel," Barker said.

The legislation to be able to do this was put into effect on September 28, 2006. The legislation states that if a person owes any amount of money in reparation, fines in excess of $5,000 or there is a warrant out for their arrest they will be stopped and forced to pay, withheld from travelling or will be stopped when they re-enter the country.

The fine-dodger picked up today at Auckland airport was exactly what the Government wanted to achieve, according to Barker.

The Pay and Stay campaign has currently already received $10,000 from people getting ready to travel internationally. Barker said: "To avoid being stopped at the airport the best thing to do is simply to ensure you have no major unpaid fines or reparation before you pack your bags. I've said all along that if you have enough money to travel overseas you have enough money to pay your reparation and fines. This person obviously had the money, and it's only right he was made to pay what he owed."

Barker added: "This person stood up in a court and said he was going to pay the victim of his crime reparation. He didn't follow this promise and... [after] 19 years, he couldn't escape the border agency."