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Bill To Empower Victims

Bill To Empower Victims

David Garrett MP, ACT New Zealand
Friday, November 20 2009

The censoring of Victim Impact Statements is an example of the courts attempting to usurp the role of Parliament; my Victims’ Rights (Victim Impact Statements) Amendment Bill makes it clear that it is Parliament - and not the courts - that make the law, ACT New Zealand Law & Order Spokesman David Garrett said today.

"Only two sections within the Victim Rights Act 2002 govern the content of victim impact statements, imposing very few limits on what can be said. Yet the courts have taken it upon themselves to impose further conditions, in effect censoring victims statements as they see fit," Mr Garrett said.

"This is a gross interference in the power of Parliament and the courts must be reminded that they cannot effectively rewrite the law to suit their interests.

"My Bill makes it clear that victims of crime can read their statements with minimal interference from the presiding Judge. As long as their statement is not unreasonably long, and does not contain words that are defamatory or clearly untrue, victims will be able to make whatever comments they like.

"A victim impact statement is the victim’s last chance to tell the criminal about the impact their actions have had on their lives. Hurting the criminal’s feelings should not be a concern," Mr Garrett said.

ENDS

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