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Students' apologies essence of real justice

16 October 2001

Students' apologies essence of real justice

Green Justice Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos today said apologies from three teenagers who helped burn down a high school gym to 900 of their fellow students was a model for the rest of New Zealand's justice system.

"Having these young people front up to the people they have hurt, accept responsibility for what they have done and apologise for it are crucial and important steps towards real justice," said Nandor.

"Unfortunately, under the current adult justice system these steps are all bypassed. It is easy for offenders to avoid accepting responsibility or facing up to the human consequences of their actions. The offence automatically becomes an offence against the Crown and any victims are relegated to the role of witnesses."

Nandor said while the apologies to a school assembly of 900 people would have been very difficult for the three offenders, it would also have been empowering for the rest of the school's students.

Nandor said he totally supported the comments from the principal of Fraser High School, Martin Elliot, when he said 'we believe the real victims of their actions were the students, not the Ministry of Education or the School'.

"The basis of a victim-centred restorative justice system involves offenders fronting up to the victims as has happened here. It is the focus on the human effects rather than some abstract notion of an offence against the Crown."

ENDS

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