The Green Party is backing the calls for the ‘fatally flawed’ Oranga Tamariki (Youth Justice Demerit Points) Amendment Bill to be rejected.
“We already know, based on evidence, that the kind of approach this Bill represents will only cause more harm to vulnerable children and young people, will lead to reoffending and will not keep our communities safe,” Green Party spokesperson for Justice Golriz Ghahraman says.
The Bill, currently in front of the Social Services and Community Select Committee, has been called ‘fatally flawed’ by Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft, and rejection calls have been heard from a number of submitters including Professor Ian Lambie, The Māori Law Society, UNICEF Aotearoa New Zealand and VOYCE Whakarongo Mai.
“Continuing to push for this kind of outdated, punitive approach is dishonest and does nothing but make opportunistic politicians look ‘tough on crime’.
“It is overly simplistic and fails to recognise the complex situations of young people’s lives, through no fault of their own, and will penalise their trauma.
“Young Māori and their whānau, who are already significantly more targeted by the justice system and have more contact with the Police due to racial profiling, will be disproportionately impacted by this Bill.
“We know that children within our criminal justice system are also disproportionately those who have suffered trauma, young people with disabilities, and those who have experienced state care.
“We need to focus our attention on earlier intervention and wrap-around support for young people and their whānau. We need to focus on the drivers of inequity, inaccessible education, the persistent housing crisis, and providing young people with their basic human rights.
“This was a NZ First Member’s Bill that got picked up by National, and the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders voted against those parties and their misguided approach to justice issues.
“The evidence is clear, and this Bill should be rejected outright.”