Once upon a time, not so very long ago, a government set up a Taskforce for Action on Sexual Violence. They had been shaken by public outrage at not guilty verdicts for rape of Louise Nicholas by former police officers Clint Rickards, Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum. Shipton and Schollum were already in prison for shockingly similar acts of gang rape, and the case showed – partly because of Louise Nicholas’ bravery in taking a public stand – what a mess the justice system was making of sexual violence cases.
This Taskforce reported findings based on two years research and information sharing, to a different government, who called this report “the most comprehensive roadmap on sexual violence prevention and services that any New Zealand government has ever received.”
And in this report was a whole bunch of stuff about how to make the criminal justice system fairer for survivors of sexual violence, including looking at a variety of alternative trial processes. These alternatives are now up for discussion, with public submissions not only welcome but absolutely critical, at the Law Commission.
Over the next week, here and at the Hand Mirror, there will be posts with a variety of information about sexual violence and the criminal justice system – all geared to help people who are interested write submissions to the Law Commission on how our systems might work more fairly, and cause less re-victimisation for survivors.
We have until Friday 27 April to let the Law Commission know what we need from our justice system for survivors of sexual violence. You can tell them here, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or post your submission to:
The Law Commission, ATTN: Alternative Trial Processes Consultation, PO Box 2590, Wellington 6140, New Zealand.
Louise Nicholas is better placed than most to describe why we might need alternatives to our current justice response to sexual violence: