Aug 052009

New Zealand’s Customs Operations Manager, Investigations, David Meredith wants seafarers to get the message that child pornography isn’t acceptable in New Zealand. Within the past 18 months at least five seafarers have been prosecuted in various parts of the world,which in MAC’s view is five too many.

Two seamen on a visiting cargo ship were convicted in North Shore District Court, New Zealand after being prosecuted by the Customs Service for the importation of objectionable material involving extreme sexual exploitation of children.

Both men pled guilty and were each fined NZ$2000 plus court costs. They were remanded in custody until the fines were paid.  More than NZ$3000 worth of laptops and other storage devices have been forfeited.  

Customs Operations Manager Investigations, Dave Meredith, says:“This will hopefully send a clear message out to members of the seafaring community that this type of material is not acceptable in New Zealand.  

“The images located on the accused’s laptops are extreme and involve the sexual exploitation of very young children… Customs has often located adult material on visiting ships. However the interception of this kind of extreme objectionable material is of real concern… Customs has a zero tolerance policy towards this.  It is a scourge on the community and we will do everything within our powers to prevent it coming into New Zealand.”

Meredith says investigating the importation of objectionable material involving both the sexual exploitation of children and the use of violence and coercion to compel sexual conduct is a high priority for NZ Customs.

The issue is of concern to P&I Clubs, too. In December 2007 the Swedish Club issued an alerted about pornography aboard ship after one of its vessels was detained in Canada because one of the crew had been found with pornographic materals on a flash drive.

More recently the North of England P&I Club, NEPIA, issued a warning after two seafarers were arrested prosecuted for possessing child pornography.

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