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Witness anonymity legislation working well


Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Justice
Media Statement

4 June 2002

Witness anonymity legislation working well

A Ministry of Justice report tabled in Parliament shows witness anonymity legislation is working well, said Justice Minister Phil Goff.

“The Evidence (Witness Anonymity) Amendment Act 1997 allows witnesses to give evidence in cases where their safety may be at risk without revealing details that could lead to their identity being disclosed.

“It is vital that people who are accused of crimes cannot be allowed to intimidate witnesses otherwise you lose the rule of law.

“The value of this legislation was demonstrated in a case in Gisborne where four Mongrel Mob members or associates were charged relating to the death of a man. There was evidence witnesses had been subject to threats and intimidation.

“The legislation allowed witnesses to give their evidence by a video link with a distorted image, without disclosing their names or other details. The Crown Law Office said the trial may not have been possible without the anonymity orders.

“The report identified just twelve cases where Courts considered making witness anonymity orders. This shows that that the protection of witnesses is only required in exceptional cases.

“However, scaring off and intimidating witnesses by the likes of gangs won’t be tolerated and this legislation is proving its worth.

“The provisions are effectively balancing the need to protect witnesses against the right of a defendant to a fair trial. Accordingly, no amendments to the provisions are planned,” Mr Goff said.

ENDS

All Phil Goff’s media releases and speeches are posted at www.beehive.govt.nz


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