Name Suppression Laws Must Change
Monday 10 Dec 2001
The granting of name suppression in the Taradale assault case should make the government reconsider laws preventing the media from open reporting of court proceedings, says ACT justice spokesman Stephen Franks.
"In the family courts, name suppression is a growing national scandal. Now it has forced Neil Kirton's family to issue a statement clearing their son. Many other families are similarly smeared until the suppression is lifted.
"From starting as a well-meant attempt to let judges be merciful, name suppression has become a disgrace to our justice system.
"Open justice was once an elementary right for all New Zealanders. It meant we could see that justice was being done, without fear or favour. We shouldn't be forced to trust that judges and lawyers, behind secrecy. will deal equally and properly with offenders whatever their rank or family.
"When some offenders in a group offence are named and others have suppression, leaving many more under suspicion, injustice is done to everyone other than those who benefit from suppression.
"The anguish suffered by the Kirton family, which forced them to issue yesterday's press release, should cause the government to reconsider its support for clean slate laws and other changes designed to hide favoured offenders.
"ACT is determined to reinstate shame as one of the normal social sanctions for crime, and a substantial overhaul of name suppression laws must be a first step," Mr Franks said.