Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

Reforms to protect sexual assault victims, child witnesses

Hon Judith Collins

Minister of Justice

26 November 2013       Media Statement       

Reforms to protect sexual assault victims, child witnesses

Justice Minister Judith Collins today announced improvements to the Evidence Act that will make appearing in court less traumatic for victims of sexual violence and child witnesses.

“It’s always difficult for victims of sexual violence to come forward to bring their attacker to justice – we want to ensure that when they do come forward they know what to expect in the courtroom,” Ms Collins says. 

Among the proposed changes is a requirement that the defence in sexual violence cases gives notice before a trial begins of their intention to use evidence about a victim’s previous sexual experiences.

Ms Collins says it’s too easy in cases involving sexual violence for the defendant to ambush the victim with details of their previous sexual experiences. Currently, permission to introduce this evidence can be sought from the judge at any time during the trial. 

The Government has also approved a number of changes related to child witnesses and how they give evidence in court. Changes include giving child witnesses the automatic right to a support person in court, providing extra guidance and training for lawyers and judges dealing with child witnesses, and creating a new presumption about the way child witnesses give evidence.

“Being in court with the defendant can be difficult. These changes will make the experience of giving evidence easier for children and help ensure that their involvement in the justice system is not traumatic,” Ms Collins says.

“There will now be a presumption that child witnesses will give their main evidence through the video of their police interview.  If such a video cannot be used, child witnesses will be able to give evidence via closed-circuit TV or from behind a screen.” 

The Evidence Act was recently the subject of a comprehensive review by the Law Commission, which was released earlier this year.  The Law Commission recommended a number of amendments to the Act to ensure it is working as intended. The Government plans to accept all of these recommendations and will progress further changes to the Act to benefit victims and child witnesses.

An amendment bill bringing the changes into effect is expected to be introduced next year.

The full Law Commission report is available at www.lawcom.govt.nz/project/review-evidence-act-2006

Evidence_Act_QA.pdf

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Fallout From The Barclay Tape

This is hardly a case of cleaning out your desk and being turfed out onto the pavement.

As others have pointed out, the disgraced Clutha-Southland MP will remain on the public payroll for three months until the election, and for three months afterwards. More>>

 

Ombudsman: Canterbury Schools Reorganisation Mishandled

An investigation into the Canterbury schools reorganisation after the February 2011 earthquakes has found significant gaps and flaws in the Ministry’s engagement and communications with schools and communities. More>>

ALSO:

Law Commission: Contempt Report "Protects Right To Fair Trial"

The proposed Act limits what news media representatives and bloggers can report on court proceedings, but it also makes clearer than the current law where the line is between contempt and freedom of expression. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Our Refugee Intake (And Uber’s Woes)

On figures released this week, there are currently 65.6 million people worldwide who have been displaced from their homes by war, famine or other external causes… More>>

ALSO:

IGIS Report: GCSB Support For Groser WTO Bid Not Illegal

“The inquiry has found that the GCSB did not act unlawfully or improperly in providing assistance to the New Zealand government campaign”, Ms Gwyn said. More>>

ALSO:

PM's Press Conference: Pike And Houses

There were questions on Pike River mine re-entry after new video from inside the drift was released over the weekend. English maintained a human effort would not be feasible irrespective of any future coalition demands from NZ First. He said the government would continue to work with families on non-manned re-entry. More>>

ALSO:

Flogging A Dead Horse: NZ First Seeks New s59 Referendum

10 years on from the so called “anti-smacking” law - NZ First calls for a binding referendum. NZ First MP Tracey Martin told TVNZ’s Q+A programme that the law change has had a “chilling effect” on NZ parents including herself. More>>

ALSO:

Always Interesting: Internet Party Has New Leader

The Internet Party has a new leader: Suzie Dawson... She currently resides in Moscow, Russia, where she has applied for temporary asylum due to severe persecution she reports being subjected to by those whose corruption she worked to expose.More>>

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election
 
 
 
  • PublicAddress
  • Pundit
  • Kiwiblog
More RSS News Alerts