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Alexander acclaims strengthening of victims' right

For immediate release

Friday, 11 October 2002

Alexander acclaims strengthening of victims' rights

United Future New Zealand's law and order spokesman, Marc Alexander, said today the Victims' Rights Bill, due to be passed shortly, forms a solid basis for shifting the focus back to the hitherto under-represented interests of the victim.

"What I am particularly pleased about," he said, "is the Labour-led Government's agreement with United Future that we need to put in place a powerful process that will guarantee the provisions of the Act, when it is passed, will be applied to the full.

"As significant as this Bill is in redressing the imbalances in our offender-based justice system, it is only a start. Much more work is required to be done in amending other legislation - most notably, the Sentencing & Parole Reform Act 2002, to buttress and support victims' legitimate interests.

"To this end, United Future has pushed hard to set up a joint United Future and Labour/Progressive Coalition committee to ensure sound practical delivery mechanisms (including possible other new laws or amendments to existing legislation) to enhance delivery of victims' rights.

"We will also examine all other issues faced by victims and their possible redress under the Victims' Rights Act and subsequent legislation.

"This committee will incorporate a significant consultative contribution from the New Zealand Council of Victims Support groups with, when necessary, other interested parties to make sure that the Victims' Rights Act isn't just a show pony, but a vital and intrinsic part of our judicial process.

"This committee," said Mr Alexander, "is, for United Future, the make or break aspect of the Bill because, as good as the Bill is, if it had no force in ensuring its deliverability to victims, it will be less than worthwhile.

"We have also agreed, after much debate, and at United Future's insistence, to include a document of protocols to reinforce the Victims' Rights Bill. Although it will not have any legal force, it will nevertheless be distributed as a measure of commitment to victims that they will now have legislative standing.

"It's my understanding that this Bill is not only supported by United Future and the Labour-led Government, but also by National, ACT and New Zealand First, and I am delighted that this Parliament can speak with such force on this hugely important matter," concluded Mr Alexander.


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