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NZLS opposes child sex offender name change bill

10 February 2016

The New Zealand Law Society says a bill to prevent child sex offenders from changing their name should not proceed.

In a submission on the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration (Preventing Name Change by Child Sex Offenders) Amendment Bill, the Law Society says it agrees with the Attorney-General's comments in his New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 report on the bill.

"While protecting vulnerable members of society from child sex offenders is an important social objective, the bill does not appear to advance this objective in a meaningful way," the submission says.

"As any person may change their name simply by adopting a new name, all the bill can achieve is that persons convicted of a relevant offence cannot register that name. The prohibition on registration will not prevent child sex offenders from lawfully using other names in situations where use of a person's registered name is not required, nor from committing identity theft or fraudulently using another name."

The Law Society says the bill is also inconsistent with the right to freedom of expression affirmed by section 14 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act in a manner which is not justifiable in a free and democratic society.

It says there are alternative ways of achieving the objective of protecting vulnerable members of society from child sex offenders. These include identification of all applicants before a name change can be registered, improved information sharing across borders and across agencies, sentencing options such as extended supervision orders, collaborative multi-agency support for child sex offenders, and vetting of staff working with children.

Last updated on the 10th February 2016