Submissions open on Sexual Violence Legislation Bill

Mon 09 Dec 2019

Submissions are open on the Sexual Violence Legislation Bill. The deadline for submissions is 31 January 2020.

Submissions are open on the Sexual Violence Legislation Bill. 

The deadline for submissions is 31 January 2020.

The Sexual Violence Legislation Bill would amend the Evidence Act 2006, Victims’ Rights Act 2002, and Criminal Procedure Act 2011. The purpose of the legislation is to improve the experience of sexual violence victims/survivors in the court and justice process, with a focus on reducing re-traumatisation when victims/survivors attend court and give evidence.

The Justice Committee press release states:

"This bill would increase the variety of ways complainants could give evidence in court. It would improve sexual violence complainants’ experience of the court process by allowing:

• the cross examination process to be pre-recorded

• for victims to give their impact statement without the public being present

• judges to intervene if questioning is inappropriate or excessive

• judges to tell the jury about any common myths surrounding sexual violence cases

The bill would also increase access to communication assistance. Anyone who needs help understanding court proceedings or giving evidence would be able to apply for assistance."

The legislation addresses some of the recommendations from the Law Commission’s reports that have examined the justice system for victims of sexual violence: The Justice Response to Victims of Sexual Violence (2015) and The Second Review of the Evidence Act (2019).

Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues) Jan Logie said:

“These changes are critical to reducing the trauma that contributes to our low prosecution and conviction rates for sexual violence, which the Ministry of Justice recently published research on.”

Further commentary and interviews from advocates are available in the media listed below.

For more information about the proposed legislation, see the Cabinet Minute and Cabinet Paper on the Sexual Violence Legislation Bill: Approval for introduction.

Update: The Sexual Violence Legislation Bill had its second reading on 11 February 2021. Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence, Marama Davidson spoke about the legislation at the second reading.

Related news

The Ministry of Justice has published Attrition and Progression: Reported Sexual Violence Victimisations in the Criminal Justice System (2019). The report looks at the experience of sexual violence victims and the criminal justice outcomes when sexual violence is reported to Police. The researchers found over the four years, 31% of cases reported to Police resulted in court action for the perpetrator, 11% resulted in a conviction and 6% resulted in a prison sentence.

The Ministry of Justice is asking the public to give quick brief feedback about their opinions on the criminal justice system and how it could be improved. It takes about 5 to 10 minutes to complete the online survey with several multiple-choice questions. This builds on the justice reform work, Hāpaitia te Oranga Tangata – Safe and Effective Justice.

The Ministry of Justice has released resources from the New Zealand Crime and Victims Survey (NZCVS).

Update: New research from the University of Auckland identifies the need to address the experiences of Young Witnesses in New Zealand’s Sexual Violence Pilot Courts (2020). A new OpenAccess book Rape myths as barriers to fair trial process: comparing adult rape trials with those in the Aotearoa Sexual Violence Court Pilot (2020) has been published.

Related media

Claims that sexual violence bill will harm Māori are unfounded, Stuff, 01.07.2021

Sexual Violence Legislation Bill eases brutality of court process for complainants, Stuff, 06.03.2021

Left in limbo: Police backlog of sexual assault cases continues to worsen, Stuff, 04.03.2021

Tackling 'an epidemic of sexual violence' the aim of a proposed new law, One News, 21.02.2021

I was a victim of sexual assault. My experience was better than most, and it was shattering, The Spinoff, 09.09.2020

Rape trial study leads to call to ban certain questions from courtrooms, RNZ, 27.02.2020

Sexual violence victims still being 'retraumatised' in NZ courts, more changes needed, researchers say, One News, 27.02.2020

Research Facilitates Positive Change For ‘brutal Old Days’ Of Rape Trials, Press Release: University of Canterbury, Scoop, 26.02.2020

Sexual assault survivor on why women don't always speak up, RNZ, 24.02.2020

UC Connect Public Talk: A Cross-examination Of Rape Myths, Press Release: University of Canterbury, Scoop, 20.02.2020

He said, she said: How we might tackle changes to our sexual consent laws, Stuff, 19.02.2020

Giving evidence against flatmate rapist made victim doubt decision to complain, Stuff, 18.02.2020

What does the new sexual violence law hope to achieve?, RNZ, 28.11.2019

Grace Millane’s trial exposes a dark trend in media coverage of violence against women, The Conversation, 27.11.2019

'Absence of consent' must become global standard, Press Release: UN Special Procedures - Human Rights, Scoop, 26.11.2019

Why victims’ sexual history is irrelevant, Newsroom, 23.11.2019

The need to address sexual violence, Otago Daily Times, 23.11.2019

A guilty verdict brings justice for Grace Millane. For her sake, for all our sakes, let’s now change how we talk about blame, The Spinoff, 22.11.2019

Sexual violence law changes 'long overdue', RNZ, 18.11.2019

Courts should be about justice, not more trauma, Opinion: Alison Mau, Stuff, 15.11.2019

Proposed sexual violence laws to debunk myths and improve the court system, Stuff, 14.11.2019

Many survivors say courtroom experience is 'worse' than sexual assault – victims' advocate, One News, 14.11.2019

Bill to help sexual violence victims testify passes first reading, RNZ, 14.11.2019

15-year-old sexual assault victim speaks out to stop silent suffering, Stuff, 09.11.2019

11 percent of reported sexual violence cases end in conviction - report, RNZ, 01.11.2019

Majority of sexual violence incidents reported to police are children or young people, Stuff, 01.11.2019

Only 6 per cent of sexual violence cases reported to Police end in jail: Major Government study, NZ Herald, 01.11.2019

'Good start' to address their sexual violence response, Press Release: National Council of Women, Scoop, 01.11.2019

Family harm investigations on the rise, police figures show, Stuff, 23.09.2019

Image: Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

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