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Courts Can Already Squelch Harassing Rapists

Courts Can Already Squelch Harassing Rapists

The Courts have powers they haven't been using to deter rapists from abusing the right of cross-examination in a trial, ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"The call to stop accused rapists who defend themselves from cross-examining the alleged victim is understandable. But it need not be an issue and therefore ACT cannot join National's call for a law change.

"A Court could send a very blunt message to all rape defendants by adding extra years to the sentence of any convicted rapist who has unnecessarily added insult to injury during a trial. The judge can tell the convicted rapist he is getting extra time because his behaviour in Court made it clear he wasn't remorseful.

"ACT is very wary about restricting the openness of our justice system in any respect, and in particular by infringing upon the ancient right of an accused person to test the evidence of those accusing them. False complaints of rape are a known risk. We discredit all law when we add to the risk that the innocent can't challenge false evidence.

"Judges can use the powers they have to better control proceedings in their Courts and ensure that they are directed solely to testing truth or innocence. By making convicted rapists who abuse their rights pay a heavy price, we would not need to consider the potentially dangerous experiment of restricting the rights of all accused", Mr Franks said.

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