The report He Waka Roimata from Te Uepū Hāpai i te Ora Safe and Effective Justice Advisory Group is an important first step forward in the assessment of how our criminal justice system is viewed and impacts on communities, the New Zealand Law Society says.
“This report contains some very stark messages and conclusions. Group Chair Chester Borrows says the overwhelming impression from people who have experienced the criminal justice system is one of grief. That is a call to action, and the need for involvement by all stakeholders,” New Zealand Law Society President Tiana Epati says.
“There is also a strong message of hope for change. Mr Borrows says the group believes solutions already exist and there is a national will to build a criminal justice system to meet the needs of our country in 2019 and beyond. The next report from the group will give its response and that will be an important moment.
"This report highlights the need for access to justice to be a fundamental priority. We look forward to the group's suggestions on how everyone who becomes involved in the criminal justice process will be able to get better outcomes."
Ms Epati says the legal profession is a key participant in the criminal justice system and has a long history of advocacy for reform.
“There have been many changes made to criminal justice legislation over the years. Right back to attempts in the early 1990s to replace the Crimes Act 1961, the Law Society has called for wholesale reform rather than the piecemeal, knee-jerk reaction approach which has occurred. The report released today has provided us with a broad-ranging set of principles which come from many parts of our communities. A principled approach must be the driving force for change.
“It is also important to ensure that the reforms are accompanied by recognition of the need to ensure New Zealand has a human rights-based criminal trial process. The rights of all defendants to a fair trial must remain a foundation stone of criminal justice.
“The New Zealand Law Society fully supports the work Te Uepū Hāpai i te Ora Safe and Effective Justice Advisory Group is doing and we look forward to continuing involvement in the reform process.”