17 Aug 2011

Drawings, statements by children proposed for courts

5:56 am on 17 August 2011

Parliament is debating a law change that would allow children to show their drawings to a court as part of, or instead of, a victim impact statement.

The Victims of Crime Reform Bill was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday night.

Justice Minister Simon Power says there are no guidelines at the moment governing victim impact statements, and that has led to situations where victims are effectively censored so they don't offend the offender.

He says the legislation would give victims more freedom in what they can say to the court in their impact statements.

Mr Power says children might find it easier to draw how the offending has affected them as opposed to writing it down.

The Law Society agrees adults should be given the right to read their statements in court.

But it does not agree with the involvement of child victims, saying they should be protected from having to be part of their perpetrator's sentencing.

Family law section chair Antony Mahon says drawings can also be very subjective and will do nothing to advance children's rights.