Media release: Kids more important than confessionals

Key recommendations from the child abuse Royal Commission handed down today outline essential criminal justice reforms required to provide justice for victims.

Something is wrong in our criminal justice system when the defendant was not convicted of any child sexual assault charge in over half of finalised prosecutions. Given the immense trauma of the court process on victims of abuse this must be a call to action for MPs.

The 85 recommendations in this report are each worthy of urgent consideration. Given the role the Royal Commission has had in encouraging victims and survivors of abuse to come forward and share their experiences it could not be more urgent to fix our justice system.

A key recommendation is removing the special legal privilege accorded to religious confession.

Greens NSW MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“The Royal Commission’s recommendations, gathered at so much human and emotional cost, present some of the most important reforms ever considered for our criminal justice system.

“These recommendations come as a result of examination of literally thousands of cases of child sexual abuse, and we owe it to those victims brave enough to share their stories to make them law.

“Too often our justice system is an obstacle to justice for survivors of child sexual abuse. We cannot allow this to continue.

“The current exemption for religious confession is particularly offensive, and has been used by the Church to avoid scrutiny and accountability for many years.

“Protecting children from abuse is a far stronger moral call than protecting any religious belief, and it is well past time that the special legal protection for the confessional is abolished.

“Court and legal processes that don’t take into account the particular circumstances of child victims of sexual abuse need to be reformed now.

“We can’t expect victims of child sexual abuse to go through the traumatic court process for a less than 50% chance the person who abused them convicted.

“I am calling on all members of the NSW Parliament to commit to implementing these recommendations,” Mr Shoebridge said.

The latest report and recommendations are here: http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/policy-and-research/our-policy-work/criminal-justice

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