Govt lets down sexual violence victims - again

The Green Party is concerned a widespread inquiry into how the court system treats sexual violence victims is being watered down.

The Green Party understands the Government has decided on a September deadline for the Law Commission’s work on possible changes to the pre-trial and courtroom procedures faced by sexual complainants.

“This looks like a lost opportunity to address New Zealanders’ serious concerns about how sexual violence victims are treated in the system,” said Green Party spokesperson for women Jan Logie.

“In the wake of the Roastbusters episode, which left many New Zealanders feeling sickened about the way our young women are treated in society and by the legal system, the Government had an opportunity to make real change in this area.

“Instead, the Government is making the Law Commission report back by September, which won’t be enough time to address this complex issue fully.

“In the Law Commission submissions analysis from 2012, eight points from the original much wider range of proposals were put forward to be looked at by the Commission with ‘very strong’ or ‘strong’ support.

“These included: child protection orders, special sexual violence courts, alternative court processes for sexual offence cases (judge-led/inquisitorial style), written reasons for verdicts, jury involvement with sentencing, specialist judges, accredited counsel and independent sexual violence advisors.

“We understand the Commission will only be looking at two, at the most three, of these issues before the September deadline, and none of the other proposals.

“There is now little chance the Law Commission’s work will result in the meaningful change that New Zealanders desperately want in this area.

“Amy Adams has said that she is ‘committed to supporting victims of sexual violence’.

“Well, we’d like to see a far better show of that commitment.

“The Government had a chance to make life easier for sexual violence victims, but they’ve chosen not to, seemingly for reasons of expediency,” said Ms Logie.

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