New Zealand announces new domestic violence measures

New Zealand, family law

The Prime Minister of New Zealand has announced a series of changes to the country’s law on domestic violence.

In a speech in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, Prime Minister John Key said the Domestic Violence Act would be overhauled to include new offences such as non-fatal strangulation, coercing someone into marriage and assaulting a family member. Instances of family abuse will be added to a perpetrator’s criminal record so police and the courts can easily establish if someone has a history of domestic violence.

Other proposed changes include allowing people to apply for protection orders on behalf of a victim too scared to initiate the process themselves.

The new measures are expected to be introduced into Parliament early next year and Key claimed that, once enacted, they would cost around NZ$130 million (just over £76 million) over the course of four years.

He said that while “New Zealanders generally resist government interference in their private lives” this would not be a good enough reason to oppose these measures. “In households where anyone is being assaulted, threatened, intimidated, belittled or deprived, the perpetrator has no right to expect privacy so they can go on being a bully” he declared.

The announcement was welcomed by the country’s domestic violence charities. Jane Drumm from Auckland-based agency Shine attended the speech. She said that in the 33 years she had worked with victims of domestic abuse she had “never in all that time heard such a strong statement from a politician” and believed he country had “a real opportunity [to] make a big difference”.

However, John Key also announced that psychological violence and coercive control will not be made stand-alone offences as they are in England and Wales. The Prime Minister claimed to have seen evidence that making these actions illegal has not been as effective as the British government had hoped.

Photo of Prime Minister John Key courtesy of Chatham House via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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1 comment

Douglas Milnes - September 14, 2016 at 12:29pm

There is a phrase in this article that is either frightening or puzzling.
“Instances of family abuse will be added to a perpetrator’s criminal record so police and the courts can easily establish if someone has a history of domestic violence.”
Surely, if someone is convicted of deomestic violence, then this is a crime that will alredy appear on the perpetrator’s criminal record. If that is the case, what is it that is changing? Is the country going to start skipping due process of law and adding accusations of a crime onto people’s criminal record? If so, we should certainly be adding the accusation on to the accuser’s criminal record, too, because without a trial there is no way of telling if the accusation has any merit, therefore it must be equally assumed that the accuser is guilty as the person they accuse.
A person must remain innocent until proven beyond what is reasonable to doubt before we label them as a criminal. If we start labelling legally innocent people with criminal records then at the very least we reduce their incentive to remain innocent of crime.

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