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Sentence Sends Wrong Message

Wednesday 16th Aug 2000

Dr Muriel Newman

Media Release -- Social Welfare

The reduction in the sentence over the weekend of a Samoan couple convicted for the abuse and assault of up to eight adopted children, is sending the wrong message to perpetrators of child abuse, ACT’s Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

She said the Samoan couple, who had had their sentence reduced almost by half, “were basically importing children from Samoa, being paid large amounts of money for their care, then leaving them hungry, neglected, beaten and close to exhaustion.”

“The High Court’s decision to cut the couple’s sentence from two years to fifteen months, sends a message that child abuse is not a serious crime”, Dr Newman said. “Yet, if we are to stop children being killed, maimed and violated, then the law must clearly signal that there will be no leniency when it comes to the abuse of children,” Dr Newman said.

“Because of this, it is imperative that the couple’s application for home detention is turned down. It would be an absolute miscarriage of justice if the couple were able to serve out their sentence in the comfort of their own home at the scene of the crime.

“With abused children all too often becoming abusers themselves, the problem New Zealand is facing is growing. According to official figures, over the last four years the number of children being placed under the care and protection of the Child Youth and Family Service has increased by over 20% to almost 7,000 children, with a 30% increase in the numbers of Samoan and Maori children during that period.

“Within the last few weeks we have seen two more appalling cases of child abuse, which have left one toddler dead and another seriously ill in a coma. In yet another case, a man who raped a three year old girl and infected her with gonorrhoea has still not been found. These on-going and sickening tragedies demonstrate that it is now imperative that the Judiciary sends out a clear and consistent message - child abuse is totally unacceptable in a civilised society, and perpetrators can expect to face severe penalties”, Dr Newman said.


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