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Victims’ Rights Critical

23 July 2002

Victims’ Rights Critical

Justice Minister Phil Goff says that Victim Support is right to bring the debate on law and order back to focus on victims’ rights.

“The Victims Rights Bill, now reported back to Parliament and which will be passed before the end of this year, significantly enhances victims’ rights.

“The Bill makes victims’ rights mandatory and enforceable by law.

“It includes new rights for victims such as the right to be heard before name suppression is ordered, to be heard orally by the Court before sentence is passed setting out the impact of the crime on them, and the right to be heard before bail is granted.

“The Parole Act ensures that victims must be given the opportunity to have their views heard before parole is granted.

“Victim Support also had a representative on the appointment panel for the selection of the new Parole Board.

“The Sentencing Act makes a strong presumption in favour of reparation, requiring judges to give reasons if it is not ordered.

“Reparations are extended to allow payments for physical harm and not just property loss and emotional harm.

“Reparation payments can now be required over a longer period of time to enable the offender to meet the debt even if on a limited income. More resources have been put into the Courts Collection Unit to ensure that reparations ordered will be paid.

“The Government has restored the right of victims of crime to be given lump sum payments for permanent impairment arising from crime.

“New funding has been made available to Victim Support to help victims financially if that is necessary for them to be able to attend court.

“Funding has also been made to repeat victims of burglary to help them better secure their homes.

“Restorative justice pilots which empower victims in a process that focuses on setting things right for the victim have been extended.

“Perhaps most importantly we have emphasised crime prevention, in particular in preventing young offenders going on to serious adult crime, so that we can avoid people becoming victims in the first place.

“There is still a long way to go but having overall crime drop to a 13 year low and burglary to a 20 year low are steps in the right direction,” Mr Goff said.

Ends

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