Sexual abuse: Push for change in sex trials

By Simon Collins, NZ Herald

Raped and abused women should not be ‘revictimised’ by cross-examination in court, Auckland seminar told.

 

Sexual violence survivors are launching a push for alternatives to jury trials in a bid to avoid re-traumatising victims.

Speakers at a seminar in Auckland yesterday said fundamental changes were needed so raped and abused women were not “revictimised” by lawyers’ cross-examination of their sexual histories in front of juries, while offenders could stay silent.

 

Justice Minister Judith Collins has halted work on proposals in a Law Commission issues paper last year to change the adversarial court system to an “inquisitorial” system where a judge controls what evidence is presented and how it is given, questions witnesses before letting lawyers fill in the gaps, and requires defendants to give evidence first.

She said last September that it would not be practical to have an inquisitorial system for sexual offences but not for other cases, because sexual offenders might also face other charges.

But former Law Commission deputy head Dr Warren Young told the seminar the Government might still be open to alternative processes for certain cases, because many victims did not want to go to court.

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Source: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10912060