Family First NZ is welcoming the government’s plan to introduce a bill to strengthen the Crimes Act to deal with child assault, neglect, and ill treatment of children, but says that the laws surrounding the right to silence should be part of the review.
“We agree with the Law Commission’s conclusion that the existing laws do not sufficiently protect children, and that there was no legal duty for adults to intervene to protect a child in their home,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “Sentences passed down for some recent horrendous cases of child abuse have confirmed that we need to get this law right.”
“We agree with the Commission’s call for an increase of the maximum penalty for child cruelty from five years’ jail to 10 years.”
“But the right to silence afforded to family members who may have witnessed child abuse should also be removed.”
“The police acknowledge that the closing of ranks by the families and the ‘right to silence’ and refusal to be interviewed has stonewalled a number of investigations into child abuse deaths. For example, the family members related to the Kahui twins have been referred to as the ‘tight 12’. As a result, we now have victims of child abuse screaming for justice and nobody held to account.”
“The rights of victims to justice and the urgent need for offenders to be held accountable far outweighs the right to silence and other privileges that families may seek to use to mask their guilt or involvement,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“We welcome the government’s intention to send a strong clear message through appropriate legislation that the abuse and killing of our children is deplored by our society.”