Kate Hawkesby: Surely a child's life trumps everything?


Manage episode 254319127 series 2098280
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I spoke yesterday to about the most sensible person we’ve ever had on this show. Ruth Money is a victims advocate, and she makes a lot of sense when it comes to the right to silence law.
She’s been agitating for change to this law for more than 10 years. She calls our child abuse stats an indictment on this country. It actually beggars belief that we continue to hurt and kill our most vulnerable, and that we continue to let a cone of silence fall over the top of that.
I asked her how, with case, after case, after case, that makes us sick to our stomachs, and with the backing of the Police Association and the Commissioner for Children, how it is that we still don’t have change to this law. She said she is up against a pretty adamant legal fraternity, who're fastidious about the law and the fact that you may incriminate yourself if you talk, she claims they take that very seriously and hold that in higher regard than anything else.
But why is the right of the child, not above your right to silence in regards what you did to them? A child has a basic right to life, surely that trumps all?
Ruth pointed out we can get rid of the right to silence in fraud cases, but we can’t do it when it comes to maiming or killing our children, which as she put it, is “nuts”.
In the most recent case of the badly beaten 4 year old boy, the PM weighed in and ‘urged’ the family to come forward, but as we’ve seen with gangs and guns, and domestic violence abusers, ‘urging’ people to do the right thing, goes nowhere. This shouldn’t be an opt-in situation.
Justice Minister Andrew Little has ruled out revoking the law. So this government won’t be changing it. He sides with the lawyers who claim it may incriminate innocent people. Act says it’ll fight for a law change if elected, National says it would remove it as well.
Ruth Money made the point that we can sit in urgency in this country over more minor things, we can fund millions of dollars being spent on a cycle way going over the Auckland Harbour bridge, but we don’t worry enough about the fact our children are being beaten and people are keeping quiet about it. It’s out of kilter, and protecting these people, no matter what the legal fraternity thinks, is unjust. Because it’s the children who don’t have a voice, we must do the right thing by them, because they’re innocent victims here.
The longer we allow silence, the more we send the message to abusers that you can beat maim or even kill your child, and you won’t necessarily be held accountable. We send the message to children, that the adults in their lives who’re supposed to protect them, may not. It’s utterly wrong, and advocates like Ruth are right, changing this law is way overdue.

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