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No More Court Secrecy On Witness Payments

Thursday 13 Dec 2001

The jury and the Judge should know whenever a criminal case witness is paid to give evidence or has an expectation of reward, says ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks. And there need be no delay in requiring that.

"It doesn't need lengthy reports from experts and law commissions. The Solicitor General, the Minister of Police and the Commissioner of Police should agree and announce immediately that it will be an automatic practice for Crown and Police prosecutors, pending any change in law or court rules.

"ACT has always supported a tougher criminal justice system. But New Zealanders will not support tougher punishment if we have serious worries that people are being framed.

"The Court must be able to assess a Police witnesses' credibility knowing if potentially distorting incentives have been provided.

"Payments of informants and witnesses, rewards and concessions for providing evidence may be an unavoidable part of any criminal justice system determined not to tolerate crime. But nor can we tolerate any risks of perjury or the suborning of witnesses, from whichever direction it may come" Stephen Franks said.


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