This bill amends the Evidence Act 2006, Victims’ Rights Act 2002, and Criminal Procedure Act 2011 to reduce the retraumatisation victims of sexual violence may experience when they attend court and give evidence.Sexual Violence Legislation Bill – New Zealand Parliament (www.parliament.nz)
Alternative ways of giving evidence in sexual violence cases
Clause 14 would insert new sections into the Evidence Act to allow certain witnesses in sexual violence cases to give evidence in alternative ways without having to apply to court to do so. (The ordinary way of speaking directly from the witness box would still be available.)Sexual Violence Legislation Bill 185-2 (2019), Government Bill – New Zealand Legislation
A witness could choose to give evidence:
by video recorded before the trial
in the courtroom but unable to see the defendant or some other specified person
from an appropriate place outside the courtroom.
Prosecutors would have to inform the court and the defence how the evidence will be given. The defence could ask for a direction that the evidence be given in the ordinary way or in a different alternative way.
The bill would allow cross-examination to be given by pre-recorded video made before the trial. Clause 14 provides a framework for the use of pre-recorded cross-examination. The defence could also apply to further cross-examine the witness at trial.
The alternative ways of giving evidence would apply to both sexual case complainants and propensity witnesses. A complainant is a person who is alleged to have experienced the offence(s) charged. Propensity witnesses give evidence that the defendant behaved or offended in a similar way at another time.