9 Feb 2016

Sex offender name change bill opposed by Law Society

12:38 pm on 9 February 2016

A new bill that would prevent sex offenders from legally changing their names would breach their rights, says the Law Society.

National MP Jian Yang.

National MP Jian Yang's bill faces several major hurdles on its path towards becoming law Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The Society is opposing the National MP Jian Yang's bill, which was drawn from the Parliamentary ballot in October and passed its first reading in December.

The Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration (Preventing name change by child sex offenders) Amendment Bill was drafted after a convicted sex offender admitted using false CVs and a forged birth certificate to teach in six North Island schools.

Mr Yang says his bill is aimed at protecting children. He told Parliament last year that parents and children "should be able to trust people in positions of responsibility".

But Kathryn Dalziel, a member of the Law Society's Human Rights Committee,said the bill was redundant.

"All it was simply about was registering a change of name, and that didn't stop sex offenders from changing their name and simply not registering it. And one of the critical things to changing behaviour of child sex offenders is reintegration into the community. And if you exclude people with disobedient behaviour, it drives their offending underground.

The bill passed its first reading in December by 75 votes to 46 with Labour and the Greens opposing. It will be considered by the Social Services committee, which is also considering legislation that would establish a register of child sex offenders.

In December, Attorney-General Chris Finlayson said the bill would not comply with the Bill of Rights Act.

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