Post by Category : Laws and Criminal Justice System

Funding of Sexual Abuse Social Services Inquiry – SUBMISSION GUIDE

What is an inquiry and why should I make a submission?

 

The social services select committee’s job is to listen to evidence and advise parliament on how to improve social development in New Zealand. The committee includes members of parliament from National, Labour, New Zealand First and the Green Party. The committee offers advice about pieces of legislation but sometimes they also initiate inquiries into matters of significant importance; in this case funding for specialist sexual abuse social services. It’s a chance for the community to tell parliament what it needs and wants, and hopefully build agreement across all the parties within parliament so we can get sustainable solutions.

Jan Logie from the Green Party initiated this inquiry in partnership with Alfred Ngaro from the National Party. All the parties on the committee believe we can better help victim/survivors.

Your opinion and experiences are unique and important. Submitting could help ensure the right help is there for everyone in the future. 

 

Sexual abuse: Push for change in sex trials By Simon Collins

Raped and abused women should not be ‘revictimised’ by cross-examination in court, Auckland seminar told.

Justice Minister Judith Collins. Photo / NZPA

Justice Minister Judith Collins. Photo / NZPA

Sexual violence survivors are launching a push for alternatives to jury trials in a bid to avoid retraumatising victims.

Speakers at a seminar in Auckland yesterday said fundamental changes were needed so raped and abused women were not “revictimised” by lawyers’ cross-examination of their sexual histories in front of juries, while offenders could stay silent.

Justice Minister Judith Collins has halted work on proposals in a Law Commission issues paper last year to change the adversarial court system to an “inquisitorial” system where a judge controls what evidence is presented and how it is given, questions witnesses before letting lawyers fill in the gaps, and requires defendants to give evidence first.

She said last September that it would not be practical to have an inquisitorial system for sexual offences but not for other cases, because sexual offenders might also face other charges.

But former Law Commission deputy head Dr Warren Young told the seminar the Government might still be open to alternative processes for certain cases, because many victims did not want to go to court.

“The court system does not deal well with most sexual offences, and as a result people who need to be held to account for their behaviour are not held to account,” he said.

“So what we need to think about is an alternative process outside the criminal justice system for those sorts of cases that the court system is ill-suited to deal with – a process that victims will opt into at their choice.

“There will be an assessment by specialist providers about whether it will be workable for them, including safety issues. The process will be tailored to particular cases and will be oriented to trying to achieve a good outcome.

“There will be agreement about when, if the process fails, it is referred back to the criminal justice system, but if the accused participates fully there will be no referral back to the criminal justice system.”

Only about one sexual offence in every 100 leads to a conviction. A survey had found only 7 per cent of sexual offences were reported, and a 2009 government study found only 13 per cent of cases reported to police lead to a conviction.

Police classified 34 per cent of reported cases as “no offence”. Offenders could not be identified in a further 11 per cent of cases, they were identified but not prosecuted in 24 per cent of cases, and were prosecuted but not convicted in the remaining 18 per cent of cases.

This year’s Budget provided an extra $4.4 million over two years to refer an extra 3000 cases a year, including about 50 sexual violence cases, to restorative justice.

Paulette Benton-Greig of Project Restore, a restorative justice provider specialising in sexual abuse cases, said most victims’ overriding concern was to stop a repeat of the offending, rather than to seek punishment.

But Victoria University associate professor Elisabeth McDonald said restorative justice was allowed only after someone had been found guilty, and it needed to be instead of court.

 

Dr Young said the Law Commission consulted former judge and Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright before beginning its inquiry and was struck by her comment: “If I had a daughter who was raped, I would strongly advise her not to go near the criminal justice system.”

PROPOSED new law restricts suspected child abusers

Suspected child abusers could be banned from being around children for up to 10 years without being convicted of a crime under a proposed new law to be announced today.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says the restrictions could see up to 80 people a year slapped with orders preventing them from working, living and socialising with children, with penalties imposed on those who break the ban.

If police or Child Youth and Family believe “on the balance of probabilities” someone poses a threat to a child, High Court or District Court judges could impose the 10-year ban, similar to restraining orders in cases of domestic violence.

Bennett expects a battle from human rights and civil liberties groups but believes she has the support of New Zealand for the moves.

The law, which is among a raft of child abuse prevention measures to be unveiled today, would also allow police to tell parents if their partner was the subject of such a restriction.

“The court can consider a pattern of behaviour, so it might be that in some cases police have high intel on an individual and their behaviour has been considerably concerning. They don’t have enough evidence to take them to court but they might ask that the courts put a civil order against them.”

Bennett admits the law will be controversial but says she is putting the welfare of children first. Too many children were dying and on the balance of probabilities, the crime was committed by the “one adult in the room”. But the threshold of proof was too high.

“Far too many of the serious cases of abuse of kids that have been killed, it is often a non-blood relative, so the boyfriend if you like. Sometimes they can be very hard to take to conviction or of course they are alone and the wee child can’t speak up.”

Under the proposal to go out for consultation, qualifying offences could include suspected sexual violation, incest, sexual grooming, indecent assault and murder.

It would restrict where those people could work, live and socialise. “For example, it might be that the person cannot live, work or associate with children, it might be that they can’t hang around parks or pools where children might be.”

The restrictions, and how the threat would be assessed, would be finalised over the next few months but Bennett admitted they could be “very restrictive”. The orders were designed to complement the courts process and provide an extra layer of protection for children.

She said most orders would likely be imposed on those with prior convictions but there would be others who had clean records.

There were measures in place to rehabilitate abusers but children’s safety had to be put first.

The law is expected to hit about 80 people each year but Bennett said there were about 22,000 substantiated cases of abuse and neglect each year.

The Global Fight Against Child Pornography

Article by Barbara Lambourn , the national advocacy manager for Unicef NZ.

 

OPINION: In New Zealand we are well aware that we lag behind similar developed countries in rankings for child protection.

Our abuse figures continue to shame us. Stories of neglect and cruelty are daily media events.

But another level of abhorrence was added last week with the story of a child in California bought, adopted and traded for the purpose of satisfying paedophiles across three continents.

The perpetrators of this crime were tracked and the child rescued – with credit due to investigators at the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs, police, Customs officials and others. New Zealand is a leader in the global effort to combat activities such as this and its ugly cousin, child pornography.

Our Department of Internal Affairs has been at the forefront of the worldwide effort to find and bring to account purveyors of activities that sexually exploit children.

The innovative Super Squirrel Hunter software at Internal Affairs has been customised for more than 20 other countries and is hailed worldwide as a major tool in the campaign to free children from sexual exploitation.

In 2011, six men associated with what was described as the world’s biggest paedophile ring, were charged with child pornography offences committed in New Zealand.

At that time Detective Senior Sergeant John Michael said he believed it was likely to be the tip of the iceberg. “It’s rampant in New Zealand and if the public knew the scale of the offence here, they would be appalled.”

The attitudes and behaviour of consumers of child pornography around the world degrades and puts all children, including our own, at risk.

It is a borderless crime.

Behind every single one of those images is a real child looking to the adult world to protect them. A report from Unicef in 2009 estimated millions of victims and stated that boys and girls of all ages and backgrounds and in every region of the world were subjected to this type of sexual abuse and exploitation.

The creators and clientele of the child pornography industry are unrelenting in their pursuit of victims. The child at the centre of last week’s case was a baby when he was purchased for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

Especially concerning is that in most cases no-one knows who or where these children are and rescuing them from exploitation is deeply challenging. The expertise and experience of the investigator at Internal Affairs in New Zealand was the vital connection that led to the rescue of the little boy.

But the practice will continue until there is widespread awareness and acknowledgement that wherever such images originate, children are severely harmed.

 

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, endorsed by every country in the world, and which New Zealand signed up to in 1993, obligates our state agencies to act always in the best interests of children. Article 34 commits us to protect children from any kind of sexual abuse.

We applaud the police, Internal Affairs and Customs for their vigilance and dedication to protecting children.

We need to continue our support and investment in these programmes to ensure that the evil industry cannot flourish here in New Zealand.

 

Attorneys-General of several countries agreed to ‘work together to more closely to fight sexual violence against women and children’ at a high-level meeting in Auckland this week.

Attorneys-General resolve to support prosecutions of sexual violence

The Attorneys-General of Canada, Australia, the United States, New Zealand and England and Wales resolved to work together more closely to fight sexual violence against women and children at yesterday’s Quintet meeting of Attorneys-General in Auckland.

 

PDF of media release link is below

 

TOAH-NNEST 1

Horror In Paradise

Global outrage is growing against a Maldives court’s verdict announced on February 26, 2013 to flog a 15-year-old girl who was originally a victim of rape and sexual abuse. She now faces 100 lashes in public which will be administered when she turns 18.

More than two million people have signed a petition created by the campaign website Avaaz.org, urging Maldivian authorities to protect the girl and end the practice of flogging of women and children for sex outside marriage. The petition also threatens to hit at the country’s tourism industry until President Mohamed Waheed acts.

The girl has been a victim of sexual abuse dating back to 2009 and consecutive governments have failed to protect her, according to a report by Minivan News.

The court sentenced her to 100 lashes and 8 months of house arrest for confessing to a separate case – not related to the rape – of consensual sex with a man. She was first taken for questioning in 2012 when a dead baby was found buried inside her family compound. Her stepfather has been charged with murdering her baby and child sexual abuse while her mother has been charged with concealing the sexual abuse.

 

Sign the petition here

http://avaaz.org/en/maldives_global/?fp

Legislative Change ‘Fundamental’ To Halting Gender Violence, Lawmakers Tell UN Event

Press Release by United Nations at 10:11AM, 06 Mar 2013
———————————————–

The importance of strong laws against sexual, domestic and other gender violence was highlighted today as members of parliaments from around the world gathered on the sidelines of the annual session of the United Nations women’s commission on its second day.

“Legislative change is fundamental to halting the violence epidemic, and it is you, the representatives of the people, who can make it happen and make a real difference for women and girls,” the Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), Michelle Bachelet, said at a side event of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).

This focus of this year’s session is ending violence against women and girls. According to UN Women, up to 70 per cent of women in some countries face physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. In addition, some 140 million girls have suffered female genital mutilation and millions more are subjected to forced marriage and trafficking.

At today’s event, also addressed by the President of the International Parliamentary Union (IPU) and other legislative figures, Ms. Bachelet welcomed the fact that two-thirds of countries have legislation criminalizing domestic violence.

She stressed, however, that the current framework is far from adequate.

“All countries should have legislation that penalizes violence against women in all spheres and all forms of violence,” she said, adding that “parliaments must identify gaps and amend weak legislation.”

She noted proposals for strengthening Indian laws on sexual assault made by a Government panel after the horrific rape and death of a young woman and the tremendous public outrage that followed.

The new proposals will go a long way in strengthening Indian laws, she said, because they currently prohibit acts that “outrage a woman’s modesty,” but do not define specific off-limit behaviours.

“So I urge all of you to review and strengthen laws in your countries to end violence against women,” she said.

Parliamentarians, she added, could also use their good offices to bring police, prosecutors, judges, health care providers, social workers and religious and community leaders on board to ensure that laws were enforced.

“Ending violence against women requires the full engagement of all sectors of society,” she stressed.

Among other events under the CSW umbrella today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with heads of UN agencies on the issue of boosting coordination to fight violence against women and girls.

Mr. Ban said that he launched the campaign called “UNiTE to End Violence against Women” in 2008 because, among other necessities, women need to live free of fear and girls need to safely enjoy their right to education.

“These are basic rights. The United Nations must do all it can to make them facts of life,” he said.

Kiwis present at largest UN forum on ending violence against women and children

Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls” is the priority theme of the event, and it’s 10 years since a session of the Commission on the Status of Women has focused on this. 

 

Te Ohaakii a Hine National Network Ending Sexual Violence Together (TOAHNNEST) Tauiwi Caucus is pleased that New Zealand has joined a United Nations initiative pledge to take action to end violence against women and girls.

At the Commission on the Status of Women in New York, Women’s Affairs Minister Jo Goodhew announced New Zealand’s pledge under UN Women initiative, COMMIT, to take steps to ensure women and girls are able to lead violence-free lives.

By making this pledge New Zealand joined 46 other Governments around the world who have promised to take action to end violence against women and girls through COMMIT.

Several TOAHNNEST representatives have self-funded to attend the UN 57th Commission on the Status of Women with the focus on the elimination of violence against women and girls. They have joined the record 6,000 NGO and government delegates determined to stop the worldwide epidemic of violence against women and children.

One of the TOAHNNEST Tauiwi delegates in New York Dr Kim McGregor said “I am hopeful that because the New Zealand government has made the promise to take action to end violence against women and girls, it will follow through by ensuring there are adequate resources for sexual violence support services many of which are currently struggling to provide vital specialist services to their communities”.

Approximately one in four girls and one in eight boys in New Zealand are likely to experience sexual violence. Treasury estimates sexual violence is the country’s most costly crime.

Worldwide an estimated 150 million girls under 18 suffer some form of sexual violence each year.

TOAHNNEST representatives from both the Maori caucus (Nga Kaitiaki Mauri) and the Tauiwi caucus are sharing their knowledge about sexual violence prevention and interventions strategies and are learning about initiatives from other countries.

TOAHNNEST participated in a presentation alongside Womens Refuge, Pacific Island Safety and Prevention Project and Shakti about unique indigenous, non indigenous and Pasifika approaches to end violence against women and girls. The presentation was a great success with standing room only and glowing comments from several participants about the wairua (spirit) that was present in the panel presentation.

Louise Nicholas, National Survivor Advocate representative on TOAHNNEST Tauiwi Caucus, who is also attending says “I am really impressed with how some countries’ governments are supporting their specialist sexual violence service initiatives and I look forward to working even more closely with the New Zealand Government to ensure that our survivors of sexual violence receive the best support and service that they deserve.”

Maggy Tai Rakena another TOAH-NNEST Tauiwi delegate says ” I am delighted to have the opportunity to attend CSW57 to learn how other nations respond to the worldwide scourge of sexual violence and l look forward to sharing some of these initiatives with NZ service providers.”

 

 

Death of 23 yr old student in India as result of gang rape, results in World-wide petition

Petition by

Namita Bhandare

New Delhi, India

To:

Pranab Mukherjee, President of India

Chief Justice of India, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India

The gang-rape of a 23-year-old student in a moving bus on the night of December 16 in the capital city of Delhi has triggered anger, outrage and shock amongst every citizen this country.The National Crime Records Bureau records 572 rapes reported from Delhi for the year 2011. This year 635 rapes had already been reported as of December 15, 2012, Rape is not a problem that afflicts Delhi alone. In recent months, we have seen a rising crime graph against women being reported from virtually every corner of the country including Haryana, Kerala and Bangalore.Each time a rape is reported, civil society reacts with anger and outrage, which unfortunately dies down and is forgotten, until the next time. The question to ask: what is the inflexion point? At what stage do we say collectively and in one voice: Enough.

Many solutions have been offered in the light of this particular gang-rape and in the past. Some of these include:

1. The setting up of fast track courts (as in Rajasthan recently) to ensure speedy trials.
2. The imposition of maximum, exemplary sentence.
3. The immediate clearing of all pending cases involving crimes against women.
4. Immediate training and sensitisation of police force to crimes against women, including domestic violence, molestation and sexual assault.
5. The immediate passage of pending bills that seek to protect women, including the Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Bill 2012 and the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2012
6. Consultations with the Ministry of Human Resources to see how best to address the issue of sensitising boys through the school curriculum.
7. National-level, open consultations involving civil society and other stake-holders on how best to tackle the growing misogyny and hostility against women as well as rising crimes against them.
8. Ensuring safe public transport for all citizens by installing CCTVs and conducting due diligence of employees including bus drivers, cleaners etc.

Despite having so many women in positions of political leadership, a survey by TrustLaw found India to be ranked as the worst country in the world for women. At a time when women are increasingly claiming their rightful share of half the sky and asserting their autonomy and independence, the rising crimes against them are conducted with absolute impunity by criminals who have no fear of the law.

We are writing to you in the hope that you will direct government and judiciary to take special note of the escalation of gender violence and work together on a priority basis to implement the measures detailed above.

Lack of gender justice, lack of fear of the law, police and judicial apathy, failure of governance and shrinking public spaces is a matter of grave concern, not just for women but for every citizen of this country.

Sincerely,
[Your name]