Law Commission work on sexual violence trial process reforms to resume

Image: iStock

Justice Minister Amy Adams has asked the Law Commission to resume work on proposals for better supporting victims of sexual violence through the criminal process.

The Law Commission will pick up its work on alternative pre-trial and trial processes to identify options for improving complainants’ experience in court. The work was initiated in 2009, began in 2011 and was stopped by previous Justice Minister Judith Collins in 2012.

The move was welcomed by advocates, Victoria University researcher Associate Professor Elisabeth McDonald, the Green Party, the Labour Party, Human Rights Commissioner Jackie Blue and community activists.

Ms Adams said she has asked the Law Commission to undertake this work as a "top priority." She said, "Victims of sexual offences have been through a harrowing ordeal. It is never going to be easy for them to re-live such events and be questioned about what happened. However, we need to do all we can to ensure that the process doesn’t needlessly re-victimise them."

She ruled out any proposals that would see the burden of proof fall on the defendant.

The announcement comes a month after Police announced no charges would be laid against the West Auckland "Roast Busters" group. Thirty two young women were identified who were believed to have been victims of sexual offending, however most refused to make formal statements to the Police.

Media

Law Commission 'stretched to the limit', Stuff, 19.02.2015

Law Commission work programme confirmed, Beehive, 18.02.2015

Minister Amy Adams revives violence reforms, NZ Herald, 03.12.2014

How victims of sexual violence are dealt with by the courts, Press release: TVNZ, Scoop, 30.11.2014

Court process 'traumatic' for family violence victims - Justice Minister, TVNZ, 30.11.2014

Domestic violence laws likely to change - Minister, NZ Herald, 30.11.2014

Addressing how family violence victims are dealt with by the courts is a priority - Amy Adams, TVNZ Q & A, 30.11.2014

'Stoked' that sex victims being heard, Wairarapa Times-Age, 26.11.2014

Green Party welcomes sexual violence Trial Proceedings work, Press release: Green Party, Scoop, 25.11.14

Govt must make up lost time on sexual violence law reform, Press release: Labour Party, Scoop, 25.11.2014

White Ribbon Day: A lot of work to do, Press release: Human Rights Commission, 25.11.2014 Activists celebrate success in 'Roast Busters' campaign, Press release: ActionStation, Scoop.co.nz

Sexual violence changes to resume, 3 News, 25.11.2014

Review for sex case court processes, Radio NZ, 25.11.2014

Sex victim reforms back on table, Stuff, 25.11.2014

Govt resumes sexual violence Trial Proceedings work, Beehive: Amy Adams, 25.11.2014

Background information

See the following previous NZFVC news items:

Judith Collins announces some changes on giving evidence in sexual offence cases, 09.12.2013

Renewed calls for justice for sexual violence survivors, 06.09.2013

Recommendations for sexual offence trials not to be implemented: Judith Collins, 24.09.2012

Submissions on alternative proposals for sexual violence trials close soon, 19.04.2012

Law Commission considers Alternative Trial Processes, 16.02.2012

Research funding to investigate sexual offence court cases, 16.06.2009

Reforms to the Criminal Justice System, 10.08.2009