October 8, 2010

Name suppression rules set to change

Finally, name suppression rules look set to change in New Zealand. Now, having a high public profile does not mean you can go off on a tangent, commit a crime, go through the legal process, get convicted, and then come out the other end with no one being any the wiser. 

The change comes about after a lobbyists and, to a certain extent, blogger Cameron Slater refused to obey suppression orders and published the names of those public offenders on his blog. It cost him financially and for a lot of New Zealanders, Slater's own Court case where he was found guilty, was 'just deserts.' But without Slater's actions, maybe the Legal profession would still be swamped by high profile offenders hiding behind name suppression. 

One such case was a rugby player who forced an under-aged girl's head into his crutch. He committed a sexual offence and was brought before the Court. However, because of the nature of his prize occupation, he was granted name suppression. All we, the public, knew was that he was a high profile rugby player. Well that kind of narrows it down to the entire team really. Another victim in this name suppression racquet are those other team players that have a shadow of doubt thrust upon them. The other, more obvious, is the public's growing frustration at not being able to fully protect their children when the Law states they're not even allowed to know who this perp is. 

The new legislation is welcomed but it still has some way to go. The automatic name suppression of anyone committing a sexual violation on a child (deemed to be under 17) is something that I still think should be the 'victims' decision and not that of the Judge. Historical sex abuse cases that manage to ever see the inside of a Court room should also be at the victim's discretion because otherwise - just who does this Law really protect.  
Name suppression rules set to change | Stuff.co.nz

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