Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Beating the law and order drum

One month until the election, so of course National is beating the law and order drum, announcing changes to bail laws to appear tough on crime. If National gets their way, people accused of murder and class-A drug offences will face a reverse onus of proof to be granted bail. This is "justified" in the name of "public safety", but a vanishingly small number of accused murderers reoffend while on bail, while only a third of drug offenders do. In both cases, those who actually pose a risk can already be denied bail. So what National is proposing is a blanket presumption against bail for people who present no serious risk to public safety - something which is blatantly contrary to the Bill of Rights Act's guarantee that

Everyone who is charged with an offence... shall be released on reasonable terms and conditions unless there is just cause for continued detention
It is also contrary to Article 9.3 of the ICCPR, on which the BORA clause is based, and which is interpreted by the United Nations Human Rights Committee as requiring that pre-trial detention be "an exception and as short as possible". But clearly, our domestic and international human rights obligations are less important to National than further othering the accused and whipping up fear and hate of "crims" to win votes.