Poor Politics blunts Sex Offender Law

The National-led Government’s poor political process jeopardised a critical law change on sex crimes, the Green Party said today.

“Dealing with sex offenders properly is essential to keep our communities safe, but last night’s law change was poorly crafted and badly managed.  We are not sure it’s actually the most effective solution,” said Green Party Law & Order Spokesperson Metiria Turei.

The Government yesterday asked all political parties to fast-track a bill to close a legal loophole relating to post-release conditions for sex offenders, describing it as a technical change, Mrs Turei said.

The Government request did not mention a report from the Attorney-General that was critical of the amendment and that suggested two other potential solutions to the legal problem.

“The Green Party wants effective laws to minimise the risks posed by child-sex offenders,” noted Mrs Turei. “But the Government has not thought this through well.  The process was slap-dash.  New Zealanders should expect better.  As well as protecting communities, our party is committed to honest politics and healthy government.”

The Attorney-General’s report was only made available as debate began in the House last night, said Green Party MP Keith Locke: “Mr Finlayson slammed the bill as allowing the ‘long term detention’ of people who had already completed their sentence, thus violating people’s rights against ‘arbitrary detention’ and ‘double jeopardy’.

“He quoted court proceedings in Britain, Europe and New Zealand and suggested two other legislative paths, namely preventative detention or an amendment to the Sentencing Act 2002 to allow the courts to impose an extended parole – a course adopted in Canada.”

To mark its process-related concerns, the Green Party opposed the amendment in the House, Mr Locke said.  “The Greens will attempt to make sure proper parliamentary consideration is given to such legislation in the future. Sex offending is abhorrent to society, and we must do everything possible to get our laws right.”

“The Government has had months to get this done properly,” said Mr Locke. “They have rushed through all sorts of legislation under urgency – what could be more important than a Bill dealing with child-sex offenders?  National’s disorganisation is disappointing.”

The Attorney-General’s report is attached.