Bill to strengthen victims’ rights passes into law

  • Judith Collins
Justice

The rights’ of victims will be strengthened and expanded following the third and final reading of the Victims of Crime Reform Bill in Parliament today.

Justice Minister Judith Collins says the Bill delivers this Government’s commitment to protecting victims who have found themselves in the criminal justice system through no fault of their own.

“The experience of crime and its aftermath can be extremely stressful for victims and their families,” Ms Collins says.

“The passage of this Bill confirms this Government’s commitment to creating a justice system that treats victims with dignity and respect. We’re ensuring victims’ are supported, their rights are protected and their voices in our criminal justice system remain strong.”

The Bill introduces a number of amendments that puts victims at the heart of New Zealand’s criminal justice system including:

  • making agencies more accountable for delivering quality services for victims
  • requiring the Ministry of Justice to develop a Victims Code that outlines victims’ rights and the service available to victims
  • widening the eligibility of victims able to register on the Victims Notification System so that they can stay informed about the offender
  • extending the rights of victims to also apply to victims of youth crime.

Ms Collins says the Bill also widens the scope of the Victim’s Impact Statement to give victims of serious offences the right to read their statement to the court.

“In the past, victims have felt their say has been limited and impersonal. Our changes help to empower victims by giving them opportunity to voice how the offending has personally impacted them.”

This Bill is part of a wider set of initiatives the Government has introduced to make victims strong including – establishing the Victims Centre in 2011, the introduction of the Offender Levy to ensure offenders help financially address the harm they have caused; and a number of measures to reduce the harm caused by domestic violence, such as supporting the safe@home scheme and the introduction of the Victims’ Orders Against Violent Offenders Bill.