The Sensible Sentencing Trust has launched a Stop the Suppression campaign and is asking New Zealanders to get in behind a campaign to overhaul the name suppression laws in NZ.
“Sadly all too often child sex offenders prey on unsuspecting victims because they have previously been granted name suppression”, says Ruth Money, Campaign Spokesperson. “The current law needs to be revised to ensure these offenders can no longer hide behind suppression that is granted to protect the victims of their crimes, not the offender”.
“We are encouraging media to stop reporting the relationship between the offender and the victim. This would then allow the offender to be named and the public to be aware and therefore more protected. No one needs to know a sex offender assaulted his niece for example, we just need to know his name so we can ensure he doesn’t end up harming our kids in the future” states Money.
“In New Zealand, on average, 30 convicted child sex offenders are granted final name suppression each year. Where these men and women now live or work is a complete mystery – we believe this is a public risk. Would you want them coaching your kids or running a motel for example?” . . .
Outspoken justice campaigner Derryn Hinch is visiting from Australia this week to assist with the campaign launch and will be encouraging kiwis to sign the Stop The Suppression Petition. . .
The petition is here.
The media often they give details of the case and the relationship with the victim which would enable the victim to be identified.
In some cases suppressing those details could allow the accused, or convicted person, to be named without risking the victim’s right to anonymity.
Sometimes victims are willing to be named but suppression orders prevent them from being identified and often as a consequence from telling their stories which could help others.
Victims should not be made to feel there is any reason for them to be ashamed and giving them the choice of whether their names are suppressed or not could empower them.
Another problem of publishing details without identifying the accused is that it can cast aspersions on other innocent people.
A few years ago, for example, a comedian was accused of child abuse and sufficient details were given to spread doubt over several other comedians who were innocent.
Suppression has a place, but there is a case for changing the law so that the guilty can be named without breaching victims’ rights, to decrease the likelihood of further offending and to stop publication of selective details incriminating innocent people.