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Law Society questions need for Public Protection Orders Bill

Law Society questions need for Public Protection Orders Bill

The Law Society questions the need for a bill which would allow very high risk offenders who have served their full prison sentence to be kept in detention indefinitely.

In its submission to the Justice and Electoral Committee on the Public Safety (Public Protection Orders) Bill, the Law Society said the bill would be overly punitive on those who have served their sentence, citing several areas where the bill infringes human rights.

The Law Society called for the bill to be withdrawn or at least significantly modified.

Law Society spokesperson Jason McHerron says that under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act the effect of a Public Protection Order (PPO) could be viewed as a double punishment of criminal offenders.

Mr McHerron cites a Department of Corrections’ Regulatory Impact Statement, which stated the bill is ‘likely to be found to be inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act and New Zealand’s international obligations’ and ‘would have implications for New Zealand’s international reputation’.

“The Law Society agrees that the bill, as it stands, is likely to be found to be inconsistent with New Zealand’s international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

The need for the bill has not been established given the extensive range of sentencing and parole options already available for serious violent or sexual offenders, designed to protect public safety.

Such options include the wider availability of preventive detention since 2002, extended supervision orders under the Parole Act, and care orders for intellectually disabled offenders under the Intellectual Disability (Compulsory Care and Rehabilitation) Act 2003.

“Even before such options were available the Law Commission concluded that a civil detention regime of the kind that would be established by this bill was not necessary in the public interest,’’ Mr McHerron says.

If the bill is to be passed the Law Society recommends a number of changes be made to ensure a better balance is struck between the bill’s objective of protecting public safety and the principle that a person detained in a residence under a Public Protection Order should have as much autonomy and quality of life as possible.


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