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Greens support Maori justice system

13 October 2001

Attention Chief Reporter

Greens support Maori justice system, more recognition for victims

Green Justice Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos today said the Greens supported calls by Victim Support for more recognition of victims in the justice system, and calls from Tariana Turia for a parallel Maori justice system.

"Under the current justice system a victim of a crime is hardly acknowledged in the process. The crime is against the Crown and the victim's role is nothing more than that of a witness," said Nandor.

"Victims have been sidelined in the entire justice process.

"Marae-based, restorative systems of justice, rooted in Tikanga, empower the victims of crime and focus on forcing offenders to face up to what they have done and to put it right," he said.

Nandor said he supported the concept of a Maori justice system both as an expression of sovereignty under Te Tiriti and as a more effective way of reducing reoffending.

"Rather than rejecting this idea, I think Pakeha should also be demanding a similar restorative approach for ourselves as well. The current system of justice fails Pakeha in the same way that it fails Maori.

"Pakeha have nothing to fear from a parallel justice system for Maori and, in fact, have a lot to gain. Our current system is dyfunctional and we must explore better ways.

"There are safeguards. These measures could only be used where both parties agree, and people should also realise that prison can form part of a restorative sentencing package when dangerous offenders need to be removed from society."

Nandor said the Greens campaigned at the last election for a more restorative justice system and also believed that the justice systems of both signatories to the Treaty of Waitangi should be recognised.

"The Treaty sets out the right of the Crown to govern, and the right of Maori to self determination. The right to a traditional justice system is clearly one way for Maori to give expression to that right.

"We acknowledge the effort that this Government has made to introduce some restorative justice pilots, but a much more fundamental change in the way our justice system works is needed."

ENDS

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