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Overhaul of suppression laws sought - National Maori Authority Chair

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Chair of the National Maori Authority, Matthew Tukaki, has once again called for a review an overhaul of name suppression laws after it was revealed the most recent case of the Wanaka border breakers from Auckland sort suppression orders even though they had not yet been charged:

Tukaki, has called on broad reaching law reform saying that the public, that Maori, are losing what little faith they have left in the justice system. Tukaki pointed to the sheer lack of transparency and equity when it comes to suppression orders and the current case shows no confidence in the system:

"lets be blunt here - they sort suppression orders because it appears they were concerned about what social media would say or what bloggers might say - why? Because they knew they were caught and had dome something wrong, in fact did something that broke the law. But here is the thing - to protect their reputations for their stupid decision making doesn’t require a suppression order before charges are even laid. And that’s what has happened in this case a complete abuse of the suppression laws. It begs the question as to whether or not those laws are fit for purpose anymore - I would argue strongly they are not" Tukaki has said

"Then there is the smack of privilege that for an offence that might only have cost $4000 worth if fines that a QC is engaged, PR advice sought and they have all been lawyered up - so the lengths they have gone to that not average New Zealander would have had the means to have even come close - that smacks of privilege." Tukaki said

"And to be frank all of the paperwork related to the exemption letter they apparently used should be released - the public is entitled to know exactly how they were classed as essential workers and exactly what their reasons listed for travel were - none of this smells right" Tukaki said

"The reality is the Criminal Procedures Act 2011 needs to be overhauled and favour the publics right to know and the balance of needs on victims. For example, while a case is ongoing there is no reason why name suppression couldn’t be applied but as the case is concluded is there really a need for ongoing name suppression?" Tukaki said

"Then there are the multiple cases where you have to wonder if this is not the alleged perpetrators taking advantage. The recent case of four men charged in relation to the death of a 21-year-old Auckland man have taken their bid to keep their identities secret to the Court of Appeal. How is that in the interest of the public and the victims?" Tukaki said

"The most recent case of a well known New Zealander convicted of serious charges relating to the molestation of young men is yet another example. While the name suppression order continues this so called well known New Zealander is not exactly being punished in public view - and from all accounts the person is enjoying life as normal. That quite frankly is wrong. And in case after case after case the method seems to be that those who can afford a decent lawyer, and lets face it there are some pretty average ones out there, will always be able to use the system to their advantage." Tukaki said

"In essence there is a need to protect the identity of victims but also there needs to be a balance of the publics right to know. And it should not be left just to the media to appeal such decisions in the court around continued name suppression." Tukaki said

"At the very least we need to open up a debate about whether change is needed or not and if so what could it mean - but lets not forget here that the rights of victims must be paramount in our thinking. Name suppression is an entirely local invention, dating back to 1920 when William Massey was prime minister and came about when a group of probation officers wanting to ensure that first time young offenders were still able to go on with a normal life and get a job. This turned into the Probation Offenders Bill but then when the Bill went through the Parliament the suppression clause was extended making all offenders eligible. Ironically at the time it excluded murder but over time that too has changed." Tukaki said

Tukaki has said the specific section in the law that needs to be looked at is 200 (2) A of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011 that states:

The court may make an order under subsection (1) only if the court is satisfied that publication would be likely to-cause extreme hardship to the person charged with, or convicted of, or acquitted of the offence, or any person connected with that person; or

(b) cast suspicion on another person that may cause undue hardship to that person; or

(c) cause undue hardship to any victim of the offence; or

(d) create a real risk of prejudice to a fair trial; or

(e) endanger the safety of any person; or

(f) lead to the identification of another person whose name is suppressed by order or by law; or

(g) prejudice the maintenance of the law, including the prevention, investigation, and detection of offences; or

(h) prejudice the security or defence of New Zealand.

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