Posted by lawfueleditors

Auckland barrister Lorraine Smith, who defended Chris Kahui in his criminal trial, has lambasted the new Crimes Amendment Act relating to offences relating to child abuse. The NZ Herald reports.

A new law which comes into effect today making it an offence to not report known child abuse “is an indictment on our society”, Chris Kahui’s lawyer says.

The Crimes Amendment Act (No 3) was passed last year to strengthen the ability of agencies to “hold individuals to account for harming the most vulnerable in our community”.

The amendment came as a result of the public outcry that followed the Kahui twins’ deaths in 2006 for which no one has been held responsible after their father Chris was acquitted of murder.

The family was accused of failing to disclose vital information to the police during the investigation.

From today, it will be an offense for anyone over the age of 18 to fail to report child abuse they are aware of occurring in the household they live in, or in a family they are closely connected to. The law also applies to hospital staff who know a child is being mistreated.

Those who do not report child abuse they are aware of could face up to 10 years in prison.

However Lorraine Smith, who represented Mr Kahui, said the law change would not reduce the country’s terrible child abuse statistics.

“Some people who do see or suspect abuse, these people do report it,” she said. “The very people to whom [the legislation] is directed are often too damaged to have the capacity to report the abuse, because they know there are consequences if they do report it, and they know that the police won’t be able to protect them. This is the atmosphere that the abuse of children and vulnerable people happen.”

Source: NZ Herald

Click here for links to the original articles:

Law Fuel

New Zealand Herald