ON AIR: Kerre McIvor Mornings

9a.m. - 12p.m.

Top lawyer's warning over calls for justice system changes

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 6 March 2019, 6:55a.m.
A survey found just 11 per cent of victims have had a good experience of the justice system. Photo / Getty Images

A says criminal trials aren't designed to provide "healing and resolution", after calls to make the system better for victims.

A survey found just 11 per cent of victims have had a good experience of the justice system.

Many are asking for reform, calling the current system too offender-centric.

QC Steve Bonnar told Kate Hawkesby improvements are important. 

However, he said a criminal trial is between the community and the alleged offender; not the victim and the alleged offender.

"Any improvements to the criminal trial process for all participants are important and we should continue to strobe for those but...it's a bit of a fallacy to think that a criminal trial can provide some sort of healing or resolution for victims and that's not really what it's designed for." 

"It's there to decide whether a defendant is guilty of not guilty, so while the victim's views and experience is, of course, important and needs to be heeded, we need to remember the actual purpose of the trial."

Bonnar said victims still need a fair level of examination in the courtroom.

"It's wrong to think that a criminal trial process can provide that sort of resolution for a victim."

"There is a risk that if you start changing our trial processes and the rules which apply...simply because you want to improve the system for victims, then there is a risk that you start chipping away at the rights and principles which have underpinned our trials for centuries."

He said there needs to be more help for victims outside the courtroom.

"It's very important that there is more support for victims. There is room for more information to be provided to victims, more education about the trial process and what they can expect...and support services like counselling but not a lot of that can go on in course of the trial process itself."

How to get help

If you're in danger now:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay.

Where to go for help or more information:

• NZ Police
• The Harbour, for those affected by harmful sexual behaviour
• Help Auckland 24/7 helpline 09 623 1700
• Rape Prevention Education
• Wellington Help 24/7 crisisline 04 801 6655, push 0
• Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse
• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent. www.whiteribbon.org.nz

ON AIR: Kerre McIvor Mornings

9a.m. - 12p.m.