Court changes must get Govt go-ahead

The Government needs to act on, not just consider, a recommendation from the Law Commission to establish a separate court for victims of sexual violence, Labour’s Associate Justice (Sexual and Domestic Violence) spokesperson Poto Williams says.

“The Commission’s report, The Justice response to victims of Sexual Violence: Criminal trials and alterative processes, is both a brave and exciting piece of work.

“It recommends far-reaching changes, including options for victims to provide evidence, alternatives to the current jury trial process training and accreditation for judges hearing cases and staff taking complaints.

“The Commission also wants to see a specialist Sexual Violence Court set up to work alongside the District Court, with a two year trial period and a roll out after evaluation.

“This would be similar to the Family Violence court model which has worked extremely well to provide access to support from specialised providers and get offenders into appropriate programmes.

“The report also recommends separate facilities and entrances for victims and offenders involved court processes.

“That would ensure victims are protected from re-victimisation and offering separate facilities is a good start.

“Being given an opportunity to have your evidence heard through pre-recorded sessions would be a huge positive for victims, given the cross-examination process can be particularly gruelling for them.

“Implementing these measures would go a long way to restoring victims’ trust in the court system and improve how the court system upholds justice for them,” Poto Williams says.