Elderly Woman Fined Over Rs. 1 Lakh For “Importing” Chicken Sandwich

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Countries typically have comprehensive frameworks in place to govern the import and export of meat products. These regulations encompass various aspects, including hygiene standards, disease control measures, and compliance with international trade agreements. For example, the World Trade Organization (WTO) sets guidelines to facilitate the smooth flow of meat and other agricultural products across borders.

Recently, 77-year-old June Armstrong found herself fined $3,300 (over Rs 1,78,200) upon arriving in Australia. Reason? She was carrying a chicken and lettuce sandwich in her backpack. The incident occurred as she travelled from Christchurch Airport to Brisbane Airport in May. Armstrong had forgotten about the uneaten sandwich she had packed for the journey. She filled out a declaration form, mentioning her prescription medication but failed to mention the sandwich. “I just clearly forgot. I am very forgetful,” she told the NZ Herald

Armstrong had intended to eat the sandwich during the flight but allegedly fell asleep. Upon landing, authorities informed her about the fine imposed by customs. They said, “Twelve points, $3300.” Confused, June Armstrong asked for an explanation, to which they repeated the same, “Twelve points, $3300.” Hoping it was a joke, she questioned if they were serious, only to realize they weren’t joking. In tears, she exclaimed, ” $3300 for a little sandwich?” 

After the incident, a kind airport staff member offered Armstrong water and a chair. She called her husband to explain, but her phone was taken away, with the assurance she would be out soon. Another staff member suggested appealing the fine, which she tried within the 28-day period but received only automated responses. “My husband kept saying, ‘Just pay it.’ I said, ‘It’s our pension, we can’t afford this’.”

After paying the fine out of their pension, Armstrong emailed authorities asking why she, a first-time offender, received such a high penalty for a sealed sandwich. A month later, she sent another email expressing how the fine was affecting her life, causing sleep issues. Armstrong and her husband, who rely on pensions, are feeling the financial strain. They even considered selling their caravan.

As per the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry website, failure to declare goods known to pose a “high level of biosecurity risk” can result in an infringement notice with 12 points, equivalent to $3756, depending on the assessed risk of the goods. 



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