24 Aug 2014

Make youth, family courts public - ACT

12:33 pm on 24 August 2014

The ACT Party says youth and family court proceedings should be opened up to the public.

Party leader Jamie Whyte said secret courts are the stuff of communist dictatorships and there is nothing to prove that the system is operating properly.

Jamie Whyte

Jamie Whyte Photo: RNZ / Demelza Leslie

He said the media should be able to attend youth and family court proceedings, and all judgements should be published.

"We need not know the identities of the youths involved, but we must know what they are accused of, what evidence was brought before the court and what verdict and sentence were handed out.

"If we do not know such things, how can we know if the system is administering justice?"

Dr Whyte said access to family and youth court records should be subject to the same rules as district courts.

He said in Britain the secrecy of family court cases had led to a number of scandals and "terrible miscarriages of justice".

The ACT Party said:

  • all judgements of the youth and family courts should be routinely published
  • subject to reasonable reporting rules, the media should be able to attend and report on proceedings
  • access to formal court records in the youth and family courts should be subject to the same rules as the district courts - a general right to access
  • the names of judges, lawyers, government witnesses, expert witnesses and the like should always be public
  • the names or identifying details of parties would remain suppressed.

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