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Victims’ rights to be guaranteed in new law


Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Justice
Media Statement

11 October 2002

Victims’ rights to be guaranteed in new law

The rights of victims will be enshrined in law in legislation due to be passed shortly, Justice Minister Phil Goff said today.

“The imminent passage of the Victims’ Rights Bill is with the support of United Future New Zealand. The partnership involving this legislation is the fulfilment of the promise made in the agreement for confidence and supply between the Labour – Progressive Government and United Future New Zealand.

“The new law responds to public demand, as reflected in the 1999 referendum, that the rights and needs of victims receive the attention they deserve in the criminal justice system. Major features of the legislation include;

* Mandatory obligations on specific Government agencies to uphold the rights of victims.
*The requirement that victims be properly informed of progress in the case against the offender.
*Enabling victims of more serious offences to have input into decisions about whether the offender should be released on bail.
*Extending the categories of victims who are entitled to join a notification register and therefore be automatically informed about matters such as the offender’s release or escape from custody, hearings before the Parole Board and discharge from a psychiatric hospital.

“Provisions relating to enabling victims to make submissions to the Parole Board have already been incorporated in the new Parole Act passed this year.

“The Labour-Progressive Coalition Government and United Future New Zealand have agreed to establish a watchdog committee to monitor the implementation of the Act.

“This committee will review the current services to victims and will receive input from Victim Support, the key organisation responsible for the delivery of services to victims in New Zealand.

“This new legislation will result in significant improvements to the way in which criminal justice agencies identify and respond to the needs of victims. Just as importantly, it gives victims more opportunity to take part in the criminal justice process and to have their voices heard,” Mr Goff said.

ENDS


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