Significant step to correct miscarriages of justice

  • Hon Andrew Little

Justice Minister Andrew Little has introduced the Bill to establish a Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).

“The Government agreed to establish a Criminal Cases Review Commission as part of the Labour New Zealand First Coalition agreement,” said Andrew Little.

“A Criminal Cases Review Commission provides a mechanism for addressing miscarriages of justice - this is a priority for the Government.

“The CCRC is an independent body that will review convictions and sentences where there is a suspected miscarriage of justice. It can refer cases back to the appeal courts, but it does not determine guilt or innocence. The CCRC will replace the referral power currently exercised by the Governor-General under section 406 of the Crimes Act 1961.

“The CCRC will be accessible and will take away some of the burden from applicants who require assistance.

“Given the resources the state puts into securing a conviction, I believe there is good reason for it to put adequate resources into correcting mistakes that may have been made. Having a CCRC will ensure there can be investigations into potential miscarriages of justice that are timely, fair and independent.”

“We have consulted with other countries who have CCRCs about their experience, and with senior New Zealand lawyers and academics. Their contributions to the Bill have been invaluable.”

“I look forward to the Select Committee’s consideration of this Bill and welcome public submissions on the Bill,” said Andrew Little.

The key aspects of the Bill are:

  • The test that a case must meet to be referred by the CCRC to the appeal court
  • The power that the CCRC has to access information, the way this power interacts with existing privileges, and the circumstances when the Commission may disclose this information
  • The interaction between the Commission and the residual Royal prerogative exercised by the Governor-General
  • The Commission’s powers to undertake inquiries into practice, policy, procedure, or other matters it considers to be related to miscarriages of justice
  • The ability for the Commission to make its own initial inquiries into a conviction or sentence.

Click here for the text of the Bill.