Defence lawyers in New Zealand today launched a new national organisation, Defence Lawyers Association New Zealand (www.defencelawyersassociation.nz). Defence lawyers see the criminal justice system up close and personal. They see the impact of an uneven criminal justice system in an environment where fundamental rights for all are under pressure.
These are challenging times, particularly with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and more than ever the vulnerable need to be protected, and the rule of law upheld. That is important for all New Zealanders.
As the Minister of Justice said last year, “Our justice system is broken.”
A recent review confirmed that criminal justice system is in need of desperate change.
Defence Lawyers know this. Defence lawyers also know there is gross over-incarceration in New Zealand, and the criminal justice system impacts disproportionately on Maori.
The Defence Lawyer Association is committed to:
· A specialised and high-quality defence bar to safeguard fundamental rights for all;
· Advocating for policy and legislative reform to eradicate inequalities within the criminal justice system.
A steering committee comprising leading Queen's Counsel and defence counsel from different backgrounds from throughout the country has been formed as the organisation commences work on reform, training, and advocacy. Tiana Epati, President of the New Zealand Law Society, and herself a senior defence lawyer, welcomed the formation of the organisation. She said it was “especially timely to support criminal defence lawyers given they are working in high risk environments as key essential workers during the Covid-19 crisis.”
For comment please contact:
Christopher Stevenson and Elizabeth Hall
T: 04 4992600 (Christopher) 04 9399039 (Elizabeth)
M: 0272333363 (Christopher) 021891199 (Elizabeth)