NICK XENOPHON M.L.C.
INDEPENDENT NO POKIES MEMBER OF THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
14 March 2006
VICTIMS OF CRIME CALL FOR MAJOR SHAKE UP IN JUSTICE SYSTEM
Two victims of crime in two of the State’s highest profile cases in recent years will unite today to call for sweeping changes for the rights of victims in the criminal justice system.
Di Gilcrist – Humphrey, whose cyclist husband Ian was killed in a hit-run collision on 30 November 2003 and Carolyn Watkins, whose husband Andrew was knocked off his bike by a hit-run driver and dragged for 6km on 22 June 2001 before dying, will hold a media conference today. They will speak in support of Nick Xenophon’s proposed legislation, the Victims of Crime (Victim Participation) Amendment Bill.
The Bill, drafted after extensive consultation with victims of crime, will:
● guarantee victims of crime the right to be consulted of key prosecution decisions, including plea bargaining, and if they do not agree, to be able to go to a Victims Advocate with sweeping statutory powers who can ask questions of prosecutors and obtain answers, and if necessary stay proceedings in the interest of justice for the victim.
● require the Victims Advocate to report to the Premier and Attorney-General personally of cases where intervention is recommended. This would ‘put the ball in the Government’s court’ as to whether a directive be issued to the DPP to take certain action in the case (similar to the directive given in Nemer).
Mr Xenophon said:
“This chest thumping competition on law and order between the major parties misses the point – the focus has to be on justice for victims. They won’t even begin to get that unless they have rights through a Victims Advocate with powers to question decisions made by prosecutors – which will in turn shake up once and for all plea bargaining and the way victims are treated by the system.”
“Victims feel disempowered by a system that pays lip service to their needs but doesn’t require prosecutors to listen and act on their legitimate concerns.”