End right to silence, child expert tells Kahui inquest

NZ Herald Jun 29, 2011

The country’s leading authority on child protection has questioned the right to silence for defendants in some child-abuse cases. Starship hospital’s director of child protection, Dr Patrick Kelly, told the inquest into the death of the Kahui twins yesterday that he was disappointed new legislation from the Government did not include some limitations on the right to silence. “I know it is the Holy Grail in criminal law and I mention it with temerity.” Since the trial, the Government has drafted its new Crime Amendment Bill Number Two which could see extended family and close friends of child abusers face up to 10 years in prison if they turn a blind eye to abuse and do not report it. Dr Kelly said the Law Commission in Britain had recommended that the right to silence be removed in child-abuse cases where the accused is a caregiver of the child. The document Dr Kelly was referring to, Children: Their non-accidental death or serious injury, recommends that jurors should be allowed to make inferences when defendants remain silent in some cases.