Wednesday, August 10, 2011

MMP saves the right to trial by jury

It looks like the government no longer has the numbers to pass the Criminal Procedure (Reform and Modernisation) Bill in its present form. Good. The bill would undermine the right to silence and the presumption of innocence, and abolish the right to a jury trial in almost all cases. These are fundamentals of our justice system, vital to ensuring that trials are fair and the innocent are not wrongly punished. And now, thanks to ACT and the Maori Party's second thoughts, it looks like they might be preserved.

Its worth highlighting that this would not have happened under an unfair electoral system or a majority government. It is the second thoughts of National's coalition partners, forced on them by MMP, which has caused this change. So, in a real sense, MMP has saved the right to a fair trial in New Zealand.