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Victims can make claims against Taunoa

9 December 2005

Victims guaranteed right to make claims against Taunoa compensation

Justice Minister Mark Burton said today that any victims of the Taunoa case inmates are guaranteed the right to make a claim to any compensation paid to the inmates.

"The reason that Parliament passed the Prisoners' and Victims' Claims Act was precisely to recognise that victims have the right to make a claim against any such compensation and to simplify the procedure for doing so. Victims' rights to reparation and to make a claim are specifically protected.

"Whilst the Taunoa case preceded the new Act, the government ensured that the Victims' Claims procedure would still apply to any compensation received by Taunoa and the other inmates. Any money awarded will be placed in trust in order to allow victims of the inmates to lodge claims against it.

"The solution of simply denying compensation to inmates, the government's first and preferred option, would be contrary to New Zealand's international obligations and contrary to the practice in other Western democracies including Australia, United States, United Kingdom and Canada.

"Suggestions that other inmates could be entitled to millions overlook the provisions of the Act which will ensure that compensation is only paid in appropriate circumstances and only where the inmate has made reasonable use of complaints mechanisms.

"The guidelines will apply to future cases. For example, the first court decision under the guidelines in August of this year rejected a former prisoner's $40,000 claim, demonstrating that the provisions of the Act work as they were intended.

"This government is determined to advance and uphold the rights of victims as illustrated by the Prisoners' and Victims' Claims Act, " Mark Burton said.

ENDS

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