Progress for victims’ rights

The passage of the Rights for Victims of Insane Offenders Bill tonight is a positive step towards ensuring victims of insane offenders are treated equally and their needs are placed at the centre of our justice and health systems, Taupō MP Louise Upston says.

“This new law rectifies a current injustice which sees some victims receive fewer rights merely because the perpetrator is found to be insane.

“The fact an offender is insane does not change the immense harm a victim suffers and the potential devastating long-term consequences for them and their loved ones.

“The bill enables victims to provide a victim impact statement and be kept informed of release plans. This enables them to have a greater voice in the justice system, like victims of all other criminal offences have.

“Most importantly, the bill changes the verdict read out at court will be “act proven but not criminally responsible on account of insanity”. This provides the victim an important acknowledgement and closure that a wrongful act was committed against them.

“Right now, the “not guilty on account of insanity” verdict creates significant distress and confusion for all involved in the court process. Victims understandably feel as though their hurt and suffering is dismissed even when the act committed against them or their loved one is proven.

“This bill is the culmination of extensive work over a number of years from many victims, organisations and community advocates.

“I want to acknowledge and thank those people who submitted to the select committee or approached their local MP. Submissions from victims, their families and advocates provided a compelling case to all political parties that change was needed.

“I would also like to thank officials for their tireless work on this complex law, and all other political parties for their good faith work meaning that every party in the Parliament supported the bill at its third reading.

“Today marks an important day for the progress of victims’ rights in New Zealand.

“While the National Party is incredibly proud of this new law, we are acutely conscious that more needs to be done before we can truly say victims are at the heart of our justice system.”