Child protection laws passed

07:29, Aug 11 2011

New laws to protect children from family violence have been passed unanimously by Parliament.

Justice Minister Simon Power said that in the 2009/10 year there were 3867 domestic violence cases in the Family Court, which each involved at least one child.

''Children are our most vulnerable members of society and deserve special protection,'' he said after the Child and Family Protection Bill had passed its third reading.

''The bill focuses on keeping children safe where there have been instances of family violence in the home, and improves the responsiveness of the Family Court to those victims.''

The legislation makes it clear that protecting children from all forms of violence - a principle of the Care of Children Act 2004 - includes protection from psychological abuse and direct and indirect abuse.

It will avoid any opportunity for a lapse between a temporary order and a final protection order coming into effect which could have resulted in a victim having no protection, and makes it easier to obtain protection for children at risk of unlawful removal from New Zealand.

The bill also creates a new offence in the Adoption Act 1955 for improper inducement of consent to an adoption, punishable by up to seven years' imprisonment.

Mr Power said he was working on other measures to improve the justice system for those who found themselves in it through no fault of their own.

Those measures included making offending against a child a specific aggravating factor at sentencing and rolling out 13 new services and entitlements for victims of crime, he said.

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NZPA