Executive summary

Alternatives to trial

21In Part C we examine alternatives to trial. We first consider what it is that victims need in order to experience justice and whether these “justice needs” or “justice interests” are currently being met through the criminal justice system. We conclude that there is a need for an alternative justice mechanism and then consider what mechanism may be appropriate.

22In Chapter 8 we explore two key issues that need to be carefully considered in a proposal of this kind. The first is whether, and how, certain cases that are not appropriate for an alternative process of this kind should be identified and excluded. The second is how the alternative process should be designed so that perpetrators will have some incentive to, and will consent fully and freely to, participate in it.

23Chapter 9 sets out our proposal for an alternative justice process. The proposal is for victims of sexual violence to have the ability to access an accredited programme provider to discuss the range of options available to meet a victim’s justice needs. Victims may wish to meet with a perpetrator to tell their story and seek redress (for example reparation, an apology, or an undertaking to complete a treatment programme) or they may wish to reconcile with or be validated by family, whānau, or their community. The process would be flexible. The goals would be for victims to achieve a sense of justice; for perpetrators (where involved) to take responsibility for their actions; and for the making of redress in the form considered most appropriate.

24The alternative process would be initiated only by a victim electing to participate in it. The victim and/or perpetrator could withdraw at any time, up until completion. All participants would need to meet certain statutory eligibility criteria, including perpetrator acknowledgement that the incident occurred.

25Providers would be responsible for monitoring the outcomes of these programmes and, if the alternative process was satisfactorily completed, there would be a statutory bar against the perpetrator being prosecuted for the same incident of sexual violence. Participation and statements made in the process would be inadmissible in a criminal trial; statements made would be confidential; and no criminal record would result. A register of those who had completed the alternative process would be maintained by an oversight body, but disclosed only in statutorily-permitted circumstances.

26Cases that involved perpetrators, use of a weapon or extreme physical violence would be excluded by legislation from proceeding through this alternative process. Cases that had been assessed by providers as posing an unacceptable risk to community safety or a risk of secondary victimisation or physical harm to an individual would not be permitted to proceed. There would be rights of review of some provider decisions and a number of necessary oversight functions including, amongst other things, accrediting and monitoring providers and programmes and maintaining a central registry of participants who had completed the process.