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MANA says Sensible Sentencing Trust stopped being sensible

4 October 2011

MANA says Sensible Sentencing Trust stopped being sensible some time ago

MANA justice spokesperson Annette Sykes says the Sensible Sentencing Trust’s latest comments claiming the system is fair to Maori shows how out of touch the Sensible Sentencing Trust has become in the law and order debate.

Ms Sykes says Garth McVicar’s response to Pita Sharples admission yesterday that the justice system is currently biased against Maori is simply a denial of the facts.

“As an activist and lawyer who has seen this bias first hand, I can safely tell Garth that not only does the bias exist, but that his position of denial is part of the problem.

“Maori and all poor people get a raw deal from Police and the new erosion of civil liberties this Government has passed mean more Maori and poor people will be sent straight to prison minus the safe guards to be tried by ones peers in the case of offences carrying less than 2 years imprisonment and by a guarantee of access to proper legal representation because of the wide sweeping changes being rammed through with respect to the Legal Services Agency restructuring.”

Ms Sykes says the Sensible Sentencing Trust has been given far too much political and cultural power to whip up hate and anger and they are no longer relevant to the debate.

“They are certainly anything but sensible.”

Ms Sykes says Pita Sharples admission that Maori continue to be discriminated is an open admission of the impotence of the Maori party in the relationship with National.

“Early in his term as Minister of Maori Affairs he took part in government exercise to identify the drivers of crime and that showed beyond any question that Maori were being discriminated against right through the justice system.

“He had the opportunity to stamp out the trends that were being promoted by the new policy directions of Minister Simon Power and to ensure Maori were treated equally by the law.

“The fact that he has not been able to fix this most basic of human rights, the right to a jury trial where ones liberty is at risk, shows what a waste his time in government has been and how powerless the Maori has been.”

Annette Sykes says if anything this illustrates why there is a need to have strong advocates in parliament for the poor, the marginalised and those whose rights are most impacted upon by the tinkering with the underpinnings of our justice system that has occurred.


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