Govt fail in Bain compensation
innocence should always result in compensation for those found to have been wrongfully imprisoned and socially maligned. Surely, such people shouldn’t be required to then prove their innocence to get the state to recompense them for its mistake.
As an aside, the Bain compensation case has highlighted the extraordinary concentration of power within our justice system.
The same Justice Minister who oversees New Zealand’s humanly fallible court system also administers the procedure for correcting the inevitable mistakes, the mercy prerogative, the compensation mechanism, and the eligibility criteria (and funding levels ) for the legal aid system that is the best way of helping to prevent miscarriages of justice from occurring in the first place.
‘‘Much of the blame for the costly delay has to be laid at the feet of former Justice Minister Judith Collins.’’
This state of affairs isn’t inevitable. For years, the likes of the Law Society have called for an independent commission to be established to investigate potential miscarriages of justice, and to refer them speedily back to the courts for re-hearings. England and Scotland have created such a body.
Three years ago, the calls to create a similar Criminal Cases Review Commission here were rebuffed by a political roadblock - former Justice Minister Judith Collins.
Ideally, such a commission could also be invited to administer the compensation regime, at the end of the process. It would be more transparent, would operate at arms length from the Justice Minister, and be more in accord with the separation of powers desirable in the 21st century.
Politically though, it probably doesn’t stand a chance.