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Why No Suppression for 'Bunker Kidnap' Victim?

Why No Suppression for 'Bunker Kidnap' Victim?

The Wellington family of `Mr X' are victims - not only of the crime attempted on him, but also of Labour's legislated lies in the Victims' Rights Act passed last year. ACT always supports open justice and media freedom, and so we accept today's decision against name suppression. But we deplore what it says about our criminal justice system", ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"Now it is plain. Criminals get name suppression, but victims don't. Every criminal can force a court to listen to their families' and whanau views on sentence, but no victim can.

"The Appeal Court turned down Mr X's plea for continued name suppression because a victim has no status to even ask for it. The court could not rule on the merits of his application," Mr Franks said.

"ACT tried to ensure that the Victims' Rights Bill gave the victims enough status to make them hear from victims. Labour and United Future rejected it. So the Victims' Rights Act created few rights - and most "rights" it pretended to create were deliberately ineffective.

"For example the Act has complicated every burglary charge. The courts are now the only place in New Zealand where it is an offence to mention the address of the burglary without permission. This was supposed to protect victims. But even after ACT pointed it out, nothing was done about the victims' names or other details.

"The saga shows how upside down our justice system has become. Instead of ensuring that the law protects good people from bad, good people are now reduced to asking the law to hide them, then the law refuses even that. Victims have good reason to fear. I hear rumours there may now be a kidnapping a week in New Zealand, many going unreported.

"The law once told the innocent `don't worry about giving evidence, bad people are too afraid of the law to prey on you'. Now the Government is reduced to saying, `don't worry, we won't tell the Court where you live, so the bad guys won't know!'. What about the phone book, the neighbours, the prison network? The State won't even spend the money to stop inmates phoning out their instructions to attack witnesses.

"This is disgraceful. Suppression powers are used to protect criminals. A birthright of open courts and transparent justice has been discarded, supposedly to rehabilitate criminals, without any evidence that it does. They stop people knowing who has committed crimes, and leave victims completely exposed.

"Only ACT is vowing to restore open courts. We must also ensure that the right people are in fear in this country. It is criminals who should be begging to hide, and the courts should say `no', not innocent victims and witnesses, who know that the law can't protect them," Mr Franks said.

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