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Call for broad reaching law reform & reform of name suppression laws

The Executive Director of the New Zealand Maori Council, Matthew 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 also the lack of cultural reports that should be requested by judges and lawyers ahead of sentencing but are often not or never see the light of day:

“Let’s face up to some key things here – first of all our goal should be to reduce the prison population and not get into the business of building more jails. One of the things that judges, and lawyers have the ability to do right now is to call for cultural reports and assessments that give them a deeper understanding on what has happened leading up to a crime being committed and more information on an offender’s life. Imagine what more we could do by better understanding what has led to the offending.” Tukaki said

“I grow tired of talking to inmates and those that have been released who did not even know they could do that which begs the question how many cultural reports have been conducted and for those that have not surely it requires a complete judicial review.” Tukaki said

“Integrated into that approach, particularly when it comes to low levels of offending, should be where we connect the victims needs and wants with the offenders rehabilitation – the more we can do now to prevent repeat offending and incarceration I think all New Zealanders would agree is the better outcome. And that is why I am calling on the Government to enact policy mandating that culture reports are mandatory and for the Chief District Court Judge to enforce it and monitor – and that means publishing the figures and outcomes.” Tukaki said

Tukaki also turned up the heat on name suppression orders:

“A former All Black is sentenced to two years intensive supervision for punching a woman in the face – and he gets name suppression. The courts can suppress the identity of the defendant if publication is likely to: Cause extreme hardship to the defendant or a person connected with the defendant – quite frankly I am sick and tired of celebrities getting name suppression and those who commit horrendous crimes from sex crimes and paedophilia right through to major financial crimes – its about time name suppression laws were reviewed without delay” Tukaki said

“What we need in Aotearoa is a rebalancing of the law to be equitable. But at the same time we need to do everything we can to ensure we set our targets with lofty ambition and that is to take an axe to those incarceration numbers through good practice, funding programs and support.” Tukaki said


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