Wednesday, April 03, 2024

"Efficiency" is no reason to violate human rights

The right to trial by jury is affirmed in the Bill of Rights Act. The National Party wants to take it off you:

Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith is considering ways to reduce the number of jury trials, saying an increase in defendants choosing them is contributing to delays.

Data released under the Official Information Act shows a rise in defendants electing jury trials over judge-only trials. The choice is available only in category 3 cases, which carry a maximum penalty of two or more years in prison.

The data shows that, of category 3 cases disposed last year in which a judge-alone trial or jury trial was involved, nearly a third were jury trials, compared with less than a quarter in 2018.

Goldsmith says defendants’ increased choice of jury trials is a factor in court delays, and speeding up the system is one of his priorities.

This is not the first time they've done this. We used to have the right to trial by jury in any case with a penalty of three months imprisonment. National took it off us in 2011, raising the threshold to two years (with the help of an unprincipled sell-out by Labour). Their argument back then was exactly the same: speed and "efficiency". But those things ultimately depend on the resources the government commits to the justice system. And it speaks volumes that, with the system collapsing after decades of austerity, cost-cutting, and "tough on crime" bullshit, National would rather limit all our human rights than resource it properly. They'd rather give money to landlords than respect our fundamental rights.