“The Justice Minister has got it completely wrong when it comes to the silence of child abusers”, according to ACT Deputy Leader Beth Houlbrooke.

“Andrew Little says New Zealanders wouldn’t accept ending the right to silence and that he won’t compel child abusers to talk. But he fails to recognise that there are already various exceptions to the right to silence in the law.

“Little needs to explain why fisheries and customs officers, and even liquidators, can demand information from people, but Police investigating child abuse cannot.

“In any case, ACT is not demanding that the government compel people to talk. We are calling for a new offence of failing to cooperate with Police investigating a case of child abuse.

“If I am elected later this year, I will enter a bill into the members’ ballot that would create such an offence.

“The offence will apply when a child has sustained serious non-accidental injuries and Police have reasonable grounds to believe that a person has knowledge about the child’s injuries. If a person fails to answer reasonable questions from Police, they can be prosecuted and sentenced to up to two years’ imprisonment. This law would allow Police to question people and expect answers as they seek to find out what happened to an abused child.

“Parents and families should not be able to form a cone of silence, refuse to answer questions, and protect child abusers. Police must be given proper tools to investigate child abuse because our children deserve better.

“If it’s good enough for fisheries officers, it’s good enough for Police investigating the abuse of a four-year-old in Flaxmere.”