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Urgent need for NZ Criminal Cases Review Commission

Urgent need for a New Zealand Criminal Cases Review Commission

The albatross around the neck of New Zealand's criminal justice system is the ancient Royal Prerogative of Mercy appeal route for persons who claim to have been wrongly convicted of a crime. Their only alternative is a costly and lengthy appeal to the Privy Council.

A petition, calling on the government to set up a fully independent Criminal Cases Review Commission, has been launched today. Such an authority would bring the New Zealand jurisdiction into the 21st century.

"In the late 1990's, the UK recognised the need for a highly skilled independent review authority to thoroughly investigate cases where a miscarriage of justice was alleged" says Lynne Dempsey, spokesperson for the NZ CCRC NOW network, "Scotland agreed and Commissions in both jurisdictions have been outstandingly successful, with a steady number of unsafe convictions overturned each year".

New Zealand research indicates that up to 20 innocent people are likely to be in our prisons at any given time.
Maori and Pacific Islanders make up 60% of prison inmates, yet make only 11-16 per cent of appeals through the Royal Prerogative process.

"Are we expected to believe that these ethnic minorities suffer only 10% as many injustices as Europeans?" asks Lynne Dempsey "Such an assumption is ludicrous and unfair. Alarm bells should be ringing. The alienation of maori from the appeal system is a compelling reason for the New Zealand government to stop dragging its feet and set up a user-friendly, totally independent review process".

Petition forms can be downloaded from the website http://www.nzccrcnow.org.nz


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