Thursday, October 26, 2017

Justice for Teina Pora

In 1994, then 17 year-old gang associate Teina Pora was stitched up for rape and murder on the basis of a false, coerced confession. In 1996 DNA evidence showed he was innocent, but it took until 2015 for him to finally be freed. In 2016, the government awarded him $2.5 million in compensation for the 21 years he had wrongly spent behind bars - but, being arseholes, they shortchanged him of $500,000 by refusing to adjust it for inflation. When Pora went to court on that point and won, National's arseholes promised to appeal to stop an innocent man from getting the compensation he was entitled to. But now, we've had an election. And the new Minister of Justice is not an arsehole:

Incoming Justice Minister Andrew Little has confirmed he will order Teina Pora's $2.5 million compensation to be increased to match inflation.

The outgoing government had reserved the right to appeal against the inflation decision but Mr Little, who will be sworn in with the rest of the government today, confirmed to Morning Report that appeal would not go ahead.

"The High Court was pretty clear that when Cabinet considered it last time they hadn't considered adjusting by inflation as a matter of fairness. The High Court has now said that the government must do that, so we will do that."

Good. Pora deserves full compensation from the government for what they did to him, and now he will finally get it. But it shouldn't have needed a change of government to get there.

Even better, the new government has promised a UK-style Criminal Cases Review Commission to investigate and make recommendations on potential miscarriages of justice. While such a system won't be perfect, it will be an important backstop to the courts, and should reduce the chances of people suffering like Pora in the future. But again, that's an idea which has been banging around Parliament for over a decade (then-National backbencher Richard Worth had a members bill on it in 2006, but it was never drawn). Who knows how many people have been wrongly convicted while politicians have pissed around, refusing to provide proper justice so they can be "tough on crime"?