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Alternative Pre-Trial and Trial Processes: Possible Reforms

Submission from:

Contact details:

In general, I/we support the changes outlined as I/we believe that they could:

* reduce the additional harms that the justice process can cause to victims/survivors

* provide more appropriate and constructive responses to those who have caused harm (offenders) through the perpetration of sexual violence, and

* ultimately reduce the occurrence of sexual violence in our communities.

I/we support the possible reforms proposed by the Law Commission including:

* Specialisation of police, judges, prosecution and defence lawyers and jury

* Seeking the truth through enquiry by the specialist judge and two jury members rather than through the current confrontational adversarial system

* Specialist Sexual Violence court that will provide a more appropriate sentencing response to offenders who plead guilty.

* Survivor/victim’s rights being strengthened throughout the court process and procedures that will support vulnerable survivor/victims, eg children

* Independent Sexual Violence Advisers that are not government employees and can advocate for the rights of the survivor/victim throughout the police reporting and court process

* Alternative processes for sexual offence cases making restorative justice available to a much wider population than can currently access such a process. It is essential that restorative justice is carried out by specialist in sexual violence such as Project Restore in Auckland, a collaboration between Restorative Justice Auckland and some of Auckland’s specialist sexual assault/abuse support and treatment services. This programme offers victims/survivors a way to remain in control of the justice process and stay in direct relationship with the person who has caused them harm (offender). Also the value in Maori being able to choose a justice process which is borne out of te ao Maori cannot be overstated.

* Adequate funding to support the reforms being implemented effectively