Call for child abuse right to silence abolition

Otago Daily Times 20 Nov 2009

The latest coroner’s inquest into the violent death of a baby in Christchurch presents a good case for abolishing the right to silence for family members suspected of abuse, a families lobby group says. Christchurch Coroner Richard McElrea said at an inquest yesterday that the death of seven-month old Staranise Waru in February 2006 was not accidental, but due to an injury inflicted on her. Police are still holding the file open but no one has been charged over the death. Her parents, Nyree Hopa and Robert Waru, maintain their innocence, but closed communications with police several months into the investigation.

Family First said today laws surrounding the right to silence for families suspected of child abuse should be dumped. The Staranise case was an example of why that should happen, as was the case of the death of the Kahui twins in 2006, where police had a hard time getting answers from family members and a court case involving the twins’ father, Chris Kahui, ended with an acquittal.