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Claims bill insults victims

Claims bill insults victims

Stephen Franks Thursday, 5 May 2005 Press Releases - Crime & Justice

The Prisoners and Victims

Claims Bill insults the victims of criminals by offering a spurious remedy, ACT justice spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

Submissions on the bill have made the point that only an unlikely coincidence will allow a victim to deprive a prisoner of a compensation payment.

"Prisoners get compensation, under rights recently invented by judges, for so-called breaches of human rights law. On the other hand victims are generally barred by the ACC scheme from recovering law suits for personal injury," Mr Franks said.

To lose a substantial payout, the prisoner will need to confront one or more of the rare victims, who find a way through the barriers for recovery for criminal injury.

The committee considering the bill was told victims want to deprive offenders of windfall gains rather than to get money themselves.

The committee diligently searched for ways to block payments or to deprive offenders of them. Each proposal was met by advice that it would embarrass New Zealand before the bodies that pronounce on international human rights law.

ACT does not accept that international law binding New Zealand is as restrictive as claimed.

Even if it is, ACT considers that subservience to the assertions of the United Nations Human Rights Committee is an intolerable derogation from New Zealand’s sovereignty.

ACT believes that the bill should simply instruct judges to deal with prisoner abuse claims in disciplinary procedures for those responsible and override the law invented by judges to give punitive damages for human rights breaches.

"I was not persuaded that the behaviour management regime, which led to the cases, which prompted the bill, was wrong or even a breach of genuine human rights. Court awards to criminals to punish the state for such conduct are misdirected and lead to contempt for the law,” Mr Franks said.

*A copy of ACT’s minority report on the Bill is available on request


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