An appalling decision

I’m not a fan of posting details of Judges who issue suppression orders, as Cameron has threatened to do. Likewise I would not personally breach suppression orders as I am more an advocate of lobbying against stupid laws, rather than breaking them.

I do strongly support the Law Commission’s recommendation to make suppression orders much more difficult to achieve for those convicted of a crime.

But hell when I read about the recent case in Palmerston North, my blood boils and I am half tempted to join Whale in direct action. If you don’t know the case I am talking about, this is the Manawatu Standard on it:

If there were any lingering doubts that the guidelines for suppressing names in this country needed strengthening, the case detailed in today’s should shatter them.

The creeping secrecy pervading our justice system has long since passed what the public should accept as a reasonable restriction on their freedom of expression in order to safeguard the administration of justice.

The decision to suppress the name of a prominent Manawatu man convicted of downloading pornographic images of children is a salient example of how the principle of open justice has been reduced to little more than a passing mention before a judge abdicates his or her duty to ensure our public court system belongs to the people.

What if this man does not just download child pornography, but seeks to create some of his own? Parents are blocked from being able to protect their kids..

For Judge Fraser to say publication of the man’s identity was not required because none of the thousands of children pictured were New Zealanders is logically outrageous. Such an argument requires one to believe this man investigated the background of each of his young victims to determine they were not from this country. Does Judge Fraser believe that had the man known the children were New Zealanders he would have not downloaded the images?

An appalling lack of logic.

The Maori Party have attacked the decision:

MPs have joined the chorus of condemnation at the permanent given to a prominent Manawatu man who downloaded more than 300,000 pornographic images, many of them picturing children.

“The decision to permanently suppress this man’s name is outrageous as is the decision to give him a few months home detention,” Maori Party justice spokeswoman Rahui Katene said.

“We urge the prosecution to appeal the sentence so this man can never ever again be allowed to continue his sick actions in a veil of secrecy.”

I hope it is appealed. But I also hope the Government puts a law change on the fast track.

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