Govt to get tough on child abusers

NZ Herald Dec 09, 2008

Justice Minister Simon Power told the Herald he planned to introduce an amendment to the Sentencing Act, which would see tougher penalties for people who have offended against children. The Herald understands Mr Power hopes to table that amendment this week – possibly on Friday – and have it passed under urgency so it can become law before Christmas. The legislation is one of several plans Mr Power has in mind for child abusers. He is also looking at a review of the sentences given for crimes against children compared to similar offences against adults, and a review of the controversial right to silence. At the moment there is a provision in the Sentencing Act which requires judges to take into account the age and/or vulnerability of the victim as an aggravating factor. However, Mr Power said that did not go far enough.

“We specifically think reference should be made to a child and that [could be] a high-principled signal that we take [child abuse] seriously. He said there were currently abnormalities which meant sentences for different crimes were not always commensurable. He cited the example of the two-year term of imprisonment which is the maximum penalty for assault against a child compared with a three-year sentence for people who mistreat animals.