All hearings of the New Zealand Parole Board will be held by video-link from Thursday, 19 March, due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation.
The Board says this is a precautionary measure, which expands on its existing use of video conferencing for about half of its hearings.
New Zealand Parole Board chairperson, Sir Ron Young, has directed the move on a temporary basis to keep all participants in the parole process safe.
“Partly this is about limiting the travel required of the Board’s members and administrative staff. But it is also a proactive, preventative step to support the Department of Corrections to keep coronavirus out of prisons,” he says.
“Above all, we are taking this step in the interests of preserving access to justice.”
To that end, counsel can opt to appear by video-link in order to represent their client from a Community Corrections site. Counsel who have notified the Board of their involvement in a case will be contacted so individual arrangements can be made.
“I want to thank counsel in advance for their patience and understanding while we work through the logistics of rearranging hearings in the coming weeks,” says Sir Ron.
“We will be constantly reviewing this plan, and aim to return to business as usual as soon as possible,” he says.