Name Suppression Laws Manifestly Unjust: Reform Needed
The Free Speech Union is calling for an overhaul of name suppression laws in New Zealand. Judges have applied name suppression orders increasingly liberally, and this leaves victims voiceless and powerless, says Free Speech Union Legal Spokesperson, Stephen Franks.
"Victims must have the right to speak about those convicted of crimes against them. To deny them this right it to perpetrate yet more harm. It has become common to see the mental well-being or career prospects of a convicted criminal used to justify name suppression. This is an affront not only to victims' rights but also to the public's right to access information.
"In the course of natural justice, there are societal consequences for committing crimes, including that one's career prospects will be limited and that they may feel ostracised for their actions. The judiciary should not use its powers to subvert these natural consequences at the cost of the speech rights of victims.
Wednesday, in Parliament, Te Pati Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi used his parliamentary privilege to refer to a case currently before the courts. Although Waititi was no doubt politically motivated, the Free Speech Union shares his opposition to the use of name suppression in this case. Politics should not influence the application of name suppression laws and the New Zealand public should be trusted, in this case and in all matters except the most classified, with information and to make their own minds up about it.
"Name suppression should be applied rarely and only to protect the identities of victims of the most serious crimes at their request.
"We are calling for law reform to address injustices compounded by name suppression laws, and a reset to place the focus of them in favour of victims' rights and free speech."
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