Stuff.co 23 Sept 2013
Tough new restrictions to keep possible abusers away from children will “inevitably” sweep up people who will not abuse any children, the Ministry of Justice says.
In advice to the Government, the ministry estimates that only about half the people subjected to child harm prevention orders would have gone on to offend without the order.
Others would not have abused children and would suffer a “curtailment of fundamental freedoms without any corresponding benefits”.
“The inherent uncertainty of risk prediction means that orders would inevitably be imposed on people who would not have committed child abuse in the absence of the order.”
The proposed orders, which were announced by the Government last month, can ban people from contact with any children or from visiting places frequented by children, such as swimming pools. They can be imposed even if the person has no convictions and last up to to 10 years.
“People will be treated as pariahs and as guilty without ever being found guilty,” Otago University law professor Mark Henaghan said. “That can destroy people.”
Colin Gavaghan, director at the NZ Law Foundation centre for emerging technologies at Otago, said the orders were part of New Zealand move towards a “pre-crime” society, with people condemned on probability rather than proof.