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Justice not just for offenders says Victim Support

31 October 2008

Justice not just for offenders says Victim Support

Victims’ rights have been commonly confused with offenders’ rights but we are now starting to see a shift, says Victim Support.

“We are starting to see an historical shift in thinking,” said Victim Support’s CE Tony Paine. “Political parties are increasingly recognising victims in their law and order policies. In the past,” said Mr Paine, “victims’ rights were overshadowed by society’s focus on dealing with the offender. Now politicians are realising that victims too have needs, not in the least the need to be heard and to be compensated.”

National, for example, is proposing a $50 levy on offenders to go towards victims' costs. The Greens will adequately fund Victim Support to pay for victims to attend restorative justice processes and provide counselling and compensation for victims, preferably paid for by the offender. Labour will continue to ensure that the rights of victims are central considerations in the development and improvement of the justice system.

Victim Support has been vigorously advocating for a system of Parallel Justice. This approach guarantees that victims have their own and separate pathway to justice. It clearly disassociates a victim’s needs from those of the offender.

To see Parallel Justice become a reality in New Zealand, Victim Support calls for a greater standing for the victim in the criminal justice system, state-funded reparation, wider access for victims to counselling and the expansion of restorative justice opportunities.

“It’s too easy to say that if we deal with offenders then victims rights will have automatically been upheld,” said Mr Paine. “Of course offenders need to be held to account, but victims rights for compensation, information, support and full participation go far beyond that,” said Mr Paine.

ENDS

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