Criminal Cases Review Commission opens its doors

The body will be able to investigate claims of miscarriage of justice independently

Criminal Cases Review Commission opens its doors

The Criminal Cases Review Commission | Te Kāhui Tātari Ture (CCRC) has opened its doors this month.

The commission is an independent Crown Entity, and was established as a body that would be able to conduct reviews on claims of miscarriage of justice and wrongful conviction.

“Even though we have appeal rights and safeguards against unsafe convictions, from time to time our justice system does get things wrong. The design of the CCRC is based on international best practice, and is an important safety valve against wrongful convictions,” Justice Minister Andrew Little said. “Anyone who believes they have been wrongly convicted or sentenced will be able to apply to the CCRC for a review of their case.”

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The justice minister also said that the commission would enable the justice system to “address concerns—expressed over a number of years—about the independence, timeliness, quality and fairness of investigations into claimed miscarriages of justice.”

The commission can refer a case back to the Court of Appeal if it believes a miscarriage of justice may have taken place, although it cannot rule on guilt or innocence. Thus, it supersedes the governor-general’s referral function.

Little said that bringing the commission to life was “a commitment in the 2017 Labour-New Zealand First coalition agreement” and its launch was “a significant milestone in New Zealand’s justice system.”

The CCRC is composed of a board of commissioners led by Chief Commissioner Colin Carruthers QC. Carruthers was appointed to the post in February, and is joined by Deputy Chief Commissioner Paula Rose QSO OStJ, Kingi Snelgar, Tangi Utikere JP, Nigel Hampton CNZM OBE QC, Professor Tracey McIntosh (Ngāi Tahu) and Dr Virginia Hope MNZM.

Little said that the Waikato-Tainui granted the name Te Kāhui Tātari Ture to the commission, with reference to the work it will carry out. “Ture” refers to the law, “tātari” to review and “kāhui” to a group; in fact, a “kāhui tātari” was the name for a group that was “held in the ancient Whare Wānanga with a role in adapting procedures, processes and mātauranga.”

The CCRC began operating from its Hamilton base on 1 July.

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