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Get Youth Justice out of the shadows into the daylight

Get Youth Justice out of the shadows into the daylight

“Today it has been reported that on Friday afternoon a 12-year-old Hastings boy walking home from school was allegedly bashed by five high school students. His head was smashed onto the handlebars of his bike. He fell to the ground unconscious, where the alleged assailants repeatedly kicked and stomped on him,” said Dr Jamie Whyte Leader of the ACT Party.

“It is believed five teens were involved: three girls and two boys, all high school students. The attackers fled the scene. The boy doesn’t know any of his alleged attackers.”

“What will happen to them? We may never know. If the offenders are caught and convicted the public will not know what happened to them. Judgments of the Youth Court are not available to the public. Justice behind the closed doors of the Youth Court means we the public will know nothing of the crime for which the court is convened, the charge the youth faces, the evidence that is submitted, the decision of the court and any sentence imposed, if any.”

“The media cannot report on Youth Court proceedings because they are not allowed to. But the media represents us. We rely on the media to tell us about every other court proceedings in the country. For the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court judgements are published within days of them being made. We can see for ourselves. Soon the District Courts will be subject to the same publishing rules.”

“The ACT Leader, who gave a speech outlining the Party’s policy on Youth Justice last week in Hawkes Bay, believes that the public must be able to scrutinise the youth justice system. We need not know the identities of the youths involved. But we must know what they are accused of, what evidence was brought before the court and what verdict and sentence was handed out. We must be able to see how often the same youth is appearing before the court.”

“To that end ACT will see that all judgments of the youth and family courts should be routinely published, that the media can be subject to reasonable reporting rules, be able to attend and report on proceedings in the youth and family courts and that access to formal court records in the youth courts should be subject to the same rules as the District Courts.”

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