26 December 2013


An item in today's Brisbane Times provides a perspective on the Australian vehicle and boat rebirthing regime, e.g. section 154G of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), Regina v Hamieh [2010] NSWCCA 189 and R v Trinh; R v Chieu [1999] NSWCCA 295.

The BT reports that
What started as a technological aid to police has turned into an international diplomatic incident, as German authorities are now convinced that scores of high-end autos stolen here have ended up in the possession of those with family or business ties to the president of Tajikistan.
Whodathunkit?  The Tajik government of President Emomali Rahmon has indicated that it would look into the matter - presumably by looking under the hood to disable the tattletale transponder - and described the allegations as a "provocation" and "astounding", claiming that
German cars cross several state borders before reaching Tajikistan. Any falsified documents would have been discovered by customs services on those borders.
The German government has supposedly been seeking a diplomatic resolution since 2011.
It began with reports of 200 stolen cars, including 93 high-end BMWs. German press reports note that while car theft is common in the capital, helping police in these cases was the fact that the high-end cars had secretly embedded GPS systems, installed as anti-theft devices and programmed to self-activate if the car shows an unusual driving pattern. 
Berlin detectives weren't surprised when the secret GPS reports indicated the cars had been stolen and taken outside of Germany. 
Lots of cars get stolen in Germany and then hauled off to points around Eastern Europe. Poland is such a common destination for stolen cars that there are even rhyming poems about it: "Heute gestohlen, morgen in Polen" (Stolen today, tomorrow in Poland), or the Berliners' mocking and oft-repeated notion for a Polish tourism slogan, "Come to Poland, your car is already here." 
Poland, after all, is only 50 miles from Berlin. 
But when police looked at the stolen cars on computer maps, they were pinging from Tajikistan. Even for German stolen cars that was a bit unusual. And unusual for stolen cars here takes some doing. For instance, the Ukrainian justice minister drives a Mercedes-Benz stolen from Germany. ...
Berlin detectives went to Tajikistan and reported that the cars were being used by Mr Rahmon's inner circle. The German newspaper Bild reported that Tajik officials denied the German allegations, though they also refused to produce the purchase records for the vehicles. Earlier this year, the Tajik foreign minister canceled an official visit to Berlin as a protest against the allegations.
The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Report released earlier this month places Tajikistan at rank 154 (of 177) countries in its global corruption ranking  - the same level as the two Congos and slightly ahead of Myanmar and Zimbabwe.

'Tajikistan: The Rise of a Narco-State' by Letizia Paoli, Irina Rabkov, Victoria Greenfield and Peter Reuter in (2007) Journal of Drug Issues 951 more pointedly described it as a narco-state, commenting that 
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Tajikistan has experienced an extraordinary and devastating expansion of opiate trafficking and consumption. While heroin was virtually unknown in the country up to the mid-1990s and opium was produced and consumed locally only to a modest degree, in less than a decade Tajikistan has become a key transit country for Afghan opiates bound north- and westwards, at the same time as it has witnessed a rapid growth of domestic heroin use. Tajikistan now rivals Afghanistan for the unenviable title of the country most dependent on the illicit drug industry, with the opiate industry adding at least 30% to the recorded gross domestic product. The opiate trade is so important economically that it corrupts the whole political system. This article therefore argues that since the mid-1990s Tajikistan has become a narco-state, in which leaders of the most powerful trafficking groups occupy high-ranking government positions and misuse state structures for their own illicit businesses.