Sex attack evidence laws to change

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 10:17 26/11/2013

Relevant offers

Crime

Salvation Army says New Zealand's prison system is broken Four-month investigation into Head Hunters sparks raid on headquarters Girl, 8, injured in knife incident at Hamilton home Home detention for woman who was 'runner' in drug ring Reports of suspicious men attempting to lure Upper Hutt school children MSD convicted after judge says staff felt unsafe in Ashburton office Auckland home invasion victims speaks Name suppression granted to alleged gang members Stephen Reiri pleads not guilty to helping associate get half a kilo of meth Brothers appeal prison sentence for helping with cannabis islands

New laws which make it less traumatic for sex attack victims to give evidence in court will be introduced next year, Justice Minister Judith Collins has confirmed.

The changes include a requirement for a rape case defendant to give notice - before a trial begins - of intention to use evidence about a victim's sexual history.

Most child witnesses will give their testimony to a court through a video of their police interview. If this is not possible, they can do so by CCTV or from behind a screen.

Minors will also be allowed automatic right to a support person in court. And extra training for lawyers and judges in dealing with children will be provided.

Collins intends to amend the Evidence Act, introducing legislation early next year.

"It's always difficult for victims of sexual violence to come forward to bring their attacker to justice - we want to ensure that when they do come forward they know what to expect in the courtroom," she said.

Fairfax Media first revealed the changes last month, in the wake of the Roast Busters teenage sex scandal. The public began demanding changes to the justice system after police said no victims came forward.

The changes announced by Collins were made in a Law Commission report published in March. She said it is too easy in sexual violence cases for the defendant to "ambush" the victim with details of their previous sexual experiences.

Under current laws a defendant can submit evidence on a complainant's sexual experience during a trial. Permission to introduce this evidence can be sought from the judge at any time during the trial.

"Being in court with the defendant can be difficult. These changes will make the experience of giving evidence easier for children and help ensure that their involvement in the justice system is not traumatic," Collins added.

Ad Feedback

- Stuff

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content