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Issues Paper:Victims of family violence who commit homicide

Law Commission Issues Paper

Victims of family violence who commit homicide

The Law Commission is seeking feedback to improve the law relating to victims of family violence who kill their abusers in an Issues Paper published today.

The key questions are whether the law of self-defence for victims of family violence should be reformed, and whether New Zealand should introduce a new partial defence (that would reduce murder to manslaughter) for victims of family violence. The paper also asks whether there should be changes to sentencing and evidence law, and education on family violence for judges, lawyers and juries.

Dr Wayne Mapp, the lead Commissioner, said:

“When victims of family violence kill their abusers, they are often acting in response to years of physical, sexual and psychological abuse.

“We have been asked by the Minister of Justice to review the law in respect of victims of family violence who commit homicide. These victims are usually charged with murder. Homicide is one of the most important areas of the criminal law and it may not adequately recognise the position of victims of family violence.

“This area of the criminal law is complex and raises difficult questions. It is crucial that we hear from all interested parties. We need to know what people think about these important issues.”

Submissions are open until 18 December 2015. The period for consultation is necessarily narrow as the Commission is required to report to the Minister by 31 March next year. The Issues Paper has been published electronically and is available on the Law Commission’s website www.lawcom.govt.nz.

Submissions can either be emailed to family.violence@lawcom.govt.nz or posted to Family Violence: Law Commission, P.O. Box 2590, Wellington 6140.

Issues Paper: Law Commission PDF
Issues Paper Summary: Summary PDF


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