Proposal for sexual abuse victims approved

Cabinet has approved proposals to make court less traumatic for sexual abuse victims, including a requirement that a victim is warned if their previous sexual history will be raised in a trial.

Photo / Thinkstock

Justice Minister Judith Collins announced this morning that changes to Evidence Act had been approved.

The amendments would make it easier for children and victims to give evidence in court, and reduce the chance of them being ambushed by the defence.

Ms Collins said: “It’s always difficult for victims of sexual violence to come forward to bring their attacker to justice – we want to ensure that when they do come forward they know what to expect in the courtroom.”

One of the key proposals was to require that the defence gave notice before a trial began if they planned to bring up a victim’s previous sexual experiences.

Government also backed amendments which would give child witnesses the automatic right to a support person in court.

It would be assumed that children would give their evidence via a police video, and if this was not available, they would be able to present their evidence from behind a screen or on a closed-circuit TV in court.

The amendment bill will be introduced next year.

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