Government responsibilities to victims
The government has a responsibility to keep its citizens safe. If its citizens are harmed, then government has extra responsibilities to respond to the harm caused.
While the last few decades have seen significant progress for victims’ rights, including introducing victims’ rights legislation to guide the treatment of crime victims, there is growing recognition that the objectives of the reforms are not being realised. Victims still report feeling frustrated with their treatment within the criminal justice system and continue to feel that ‘the system is failing them’.
Part of the reason victims feel sidelined is because of the structure of the adversarial cirminal justice system. A victim is not a recognised party in that system. The two parties recognised are the State vs the accused. Because of this, victims are relegated to the role of being a ‘witness’ in the State’s case. Hence, victims do not have their own lawyer that they can instruct to act for them. Victims are reliant on the State deciding if the case should be prosecuted, and how it will be prosecuted. As a mere a witness in the State’s case, victims have few rights in the direction of the case. For this reason it is important that victims know their rights and are supported end-to-end though the criminal justice system by Police, court staff and independent advocates.
If victims feel their rights aren't being met, they can complain to the victims centre: https://victimsinfo.govt.nz/contact-us(external link)
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