Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Terrible news for rape survivors

We finally have an answer to the many years work that have gone into trying to change our justice system's response to sexual violence so that it feels less retraumatising for survivors.

Justice Minister Judith Collins "isn't interested."

Justice Minister Judith Collins has reduced the Law Commission research and consultation, with an wide range of suggestions, most of which could be done within our present legal system, to "her predecessor Simon Power's plan to introduce an inquisitorial system in New Zealand."

Justice Minister Judith Collins says she will be shelving this consultation - this independent examination of the fact that for the last thirty-five years those working in the criminal justice system have raised concerns about how we prosecute cases of sexual violence.  This despite the Law Commission website still saying they will be summarising the 500 + submissions they received about this by, well, six days time.

Earlier I shared research about how those in the criminal justice system feel about sexual violence cases.  Police Officers who say:
"I wouldn’t put myself through this and certainly would let a friend or family know how degrading it is and that they will be revictimised and the chances of a guilty verdict are very, very low."
Crown Prosecutors who say:
"In my view the process for complainants in sexual violence cases is brutal, every aspect of the complainant’s character and conduct is questioned and exposed, and the likely outcome is not guilty. "
Yet Justice Minister Judith Collins knows better, by reducing all of the work that has gone into imagining survivors not feeling re-victimised by going to court to try to stop sexual offending to "an inquisitorial system".

Look again, Justice Minister.  This isn't a pissing contest with Simon Power.  It's real people's lives.  Whether we want the inquisitorial system or not - and isn't that what the Law Commission research and consultation was for, to decide that? - whether we want that or not, there are a myriad suggestions which could improve survivors experiences now which were part of this consultation.

Read it.  Listen to experts like law academic Elisabeth McDonald.  Stop acting like the Ultimate Ruler of the Universe.  Start acting like you care about Justice.


LadyNews said...

This is awful news. I just went to a lecture last week given by Elisabeth McDonald (which was an awesome talk), and now this bad news comes.

Cara said...

It must be her extensive legal experience that makes her qualified to dismiss the recommendations of the Law Commission and experienced researchers.

Anonymous said...

There is a pattern developing of Ministers ignoring advice and assuming a dictatorial role.