Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Spinning the wheel again


National is in trouble over John Key's spy bill and cuts to recreational fishing quotas, so its time for another spin of the wheel. So what do we get? Another crackdown on child-abusers, in the form of non-association orders banning them from being near children for up to ten years:

High Court and District Court judges will be able to impose the new civil orders on people who are tried for serious offences against children such as incest, sexual grooming or sexual violation - even if they are not convicted of the offence.

Ms Bennett said the scope of such orders would depend on the circumstances, and could prevent the person from living or working with children, up to blocking any association with children whatsoever, such as sitting next to a child on the bus.

"If it is serious enough, it could be that they cannot hang around parks, pools and other places children gather," she said.

So, the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" goes out the window because the government wants a PR hit. And it gets worse when you think about it. Modern society is infested with children, and if the orders ban even casual contact, then they amount to a 10-year sentence of de facto home detention, on pain of three years jail. Its not just "parks, pools and other places children gather" - its public transport, supermarkets, workplaces, streets. And all of this is specificly targetted at people who have been acquitted of any crime.

There are very obvious Bill of Rights Act problems with this idea. But this government seems to regard unconstitutionality as a sign of policy soundness. Which is another reason why we need to strengthen the BORA and give the courts the role of overturning laws found to violate it: because this government has shown that Parliament can no longer be trusted to be the final guardian of our human rights.

[And once again thanks to Joe Wylie and Dim-Post for the perfect summary of National's meta-policy]