Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Name suppression: Protest works

Make no mistake, Simon Power-Lust’s decision to make it harder for those before the courts to get name suppression is a victory for  protest action.  We might now expect, even if justice is not done (these are the New Zealand courts we’re talking about), that at least we’ll know who it’s being done to.

Being famous or well-connected is not a reason to be granted name suppression, and let us hope the “weasel clauses” in the announced measures (when naming might “create extreme hardship”) don’t allow well-connected lawyers too many loopholes through which to slip their well-heeled clients.

Let us hope too that New Zealand’s media now act with the maturity we deserve—realising that those before the courts are innocent unless or until proven guilty, and are reported that way. Because, while justice in New Zealand has been made marginally more open, it still grinds exceedingly slowly—so, hope all we will, it’s still going to take months if not years for anyone before the courts to actually receive justice.

But did you notice the sting in Simon Power-Lust’s tail?  He didn’t want to do this, so he’s put some payback in the pot — breach name suppression now, and bloggers, newspapers, radio and TV will face six months jail!  And while newspapers, radio and TV will get access to a bureaucratically managed “national register” of names that must not be named to assist them in dispensing judicially-enforced silence, bloggers will instead have to scan court reports, comments and media stories to ensure they are not naming anyone that will see the doors of prison open before them.

If you think that’s not payback, you don’t know how politicians think.

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