ACT To Support Amended Criminal Procedure Bill

ACT Parliamentary Leader John Boscawen today confirmed he had negotiated from the Government major changes in the Criminal Procedure (Reform and Modernisation) Bill that would mean the continued protection of rights and freedoms that New Zealanders have held dear for generations.

“I had fundamental objections to the Bill but after successful negotiations with Justice Minister Simon Power all my objections have now been addressed,” Mr Boscawen said.

The concessions won from the Government include:

• Protection of the citizens’ right to silence and protection of the presumption of innocence where the citizen faces prosecution

• Abandonment of the proposition that government appointees would have the future power to take these rights away

• Continued protection of the defendant’s right not to be tried in absentia where he or she has reasonable excuse for not being present

• Preservation of the right to trial by jury in matters having a jail term of two years or more such as child smacking cases

• Retention of provisions that provide that convictions will not stand where there has been a miscarriage of justice, rather than the Government proposal that this test be raised to the level of proving a ‘substantial’ miscarriage of justice.

“I applaud Justice Minister Simon Power for his hard work and willingness to negotiate which now sees the Bill strike the right balance between administrative efficiency and individual rights integral to well-functioning justice system.

“The changes we have agreed to mean that basic fundamental rights and freedoms will continue to have legislative respect and that the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act will remain a document of integrity,” Mr Boscawen said.