Government set to remove our right to silence

No Right Turn blogs about the shabby deals that Simon Power has put together to remove our constitutional freedoms and the basic right to silence:

The government is currently trying to ram through its Criminal Procedure (Reform and Modernisation) Bill before Parliament rises in October. But there’s a problem: the bill’s “reforms” – which include undermining the right to silence and the presumption of innocence and abolishing jury trials in almost all cases – are so odious that even the tame dogs in the Maori Party and the loons in ACT won’t vote for them. So, National has been forced to compromise on some aspects of the bill. In particular, the proposal to force pretrial disclosure (which effectively forces defendants to give evidence against themselves by admitting any element of a crime they are not contesting) will be replaced:

[The] new clause would allow the Rules Committee, a panel of legal experts chaired by Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias, to decide if a disclosure regime should be enforced, and if so, how.The committee has responsibility for procedural rules in the court system, and relies on advice from judges, lawyers and other interested parties.

On the one hand, this clause is still odious. The right to silence is absolutely fundamental to a fair trial, and our judges should not have the power to abolish it like this. On the other, its also a fairly obvious fudge, allowing Power to back down without having to admit he’s doing it. And on the third, by passing the buck like this, our MP’s are effectively refusing to do their jobs as legislators. And if they’re going to do that, if they’re happy for judges to effectively make the law on fundamental rights, then lets go the whole way, make the BORA superior law, and give them the power to enforce it by striking down inconsistent laws.

Simon Power has yet again done a shabby and dirty back-room deal with un-accountable list MPs in order to remove some fundamental rights.

My understanding is that the ACT Board has become involved but it appears that there is some sort of secret deal between Heather Roy and Hilary Calvert and Simon Power. This means that ACT will not vote as a party but instead as individual MPs in the vote which is predicted to be tomorrow. It raises an interesting issue where we have unelected List MPs going against the expressed wishes of the party that got them into parliament, as represented by the board. Heather Roy is selling our freedoms for the VSM Bill rescue that Simon Power’s office found for her, highly ironic considering that VSM is meant to be about extending freedoms to students.

This is really an MMP first, the shabbiest of all shabby deals. Yet another reason why we need to Vote for Change.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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