Govt must make up lost time on sexual violence law reform

The Government must prioritise any recommendations from the Law Commission to improve criminal process for sexual violence cases after it stalled reform work for two years, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.

“Labour is pleased Justice Minister Amy Adams has today ordered the recommencement of the Law Commission’s work in this area after former minister Judith Collins put it on hold indefinitely in September 2012.

“While recent cases like ‘Roast Busters’ have highlighted the need for this work, there is longstanding evidence that we needed to do things differently if we want to better support victims of sexual violence and bring their perpetrators to justice.

“Only about 9 per cent of sexual violence is currently reported. In 2009 research by the Ministry of Women's Affairs found only 39 per cent of Crown prosecutors and 59 per cent of police and would advise a close friend or family member who had been sexually assaulted go through the court system.

“We quite clearly need to find ways to do things differently.

“While the Law Commission has been asked to revisit its work on alternative pre-trial and trail processes as a matter of urgency, we have already lost some ground.

“It’s our hope that by the time we reach White Ribbon Day next year, we will be discussing tangible ideas and proposals that will make a real difference to the victims of sexual violence and their experience in our justice system,” Jacinda Ardern says.