Right to Silence impeded Lillybing investigation

I was not aware that the Right to Silence laws not only impeded the investigations into the Kahui deaths and the Staranise Waru case, but also the 2000 investigation in the death of Lillybing.

In an extract from NZ Detectives by John Lockyer reviewed in the Sunday Star Times (unfortunately not available online yet) Investigation head Rod Drew says

“Under the Bill of Rights, suspects do not have to talk to the police. Both women invoked their right to silence. Then some elements of the family – a large extended one – shut the police out. We couldn’t talk to anyone who might have been a witness to the events. The wall of silence was difficult to deal with but after about three months Rachaelle Namana finally admitted she’d shaken Lillybing. Rongomai Paewai – the other aunty – said nothing. .. We don’t fully know who did what or even if there was someone else involved..”

Disgraceful. The rights of victims to justice and the urgent need for offenders to be held accountable far outweighs the right to silence and other privileges that families may seek to use to mask their guilt or involvement. The laws should be changed to reflect this priority.

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5 comments for “Right to Silence impeded Lillybing investigation

  1. Brian
    7 November 2010 at 5:33 pm

    It is impossible to get ‘justice’ and ‘accountability’ for victims when you force people to speak about events (which is what removing the right to silence is – forcing people to speak).

    All you get is a tangle of half-truths and stories, which will result in that witness being convicted of perjury at most, but not necessarily finding out the truth – let alone convicting child abusers – in the case being investigated.

    Removing the right to silence creates an oppressive and unjust state. Which you would know if you were on trial in the Salem witchhunts…

  2. Dominic Baron
    8 November 2010 at 9:16 pm

    I agree strongly with Brian and disagree strongly with you, Bob, on this matter. However, if we had a democratic constitution we would be able to have a referendum on this question and I would accept the result as the law. Meanwhile, laws amended or created on knee-jerk reactions to a tiny number of crimes, however horrendous, are always bad laws. I know that if ever I found myself in a situation where I was ordered to answer questions I simply would not do so… whatever the consequences.

  3. Lindsay Kennard
    8 November 2010 at 9:29 pm

    I cannot believe I am reading a professing Christian blog with a comment to remove the right to not incriminate one self. We already have anecdotal evidence that right now 5% of people convicted are NOT guilty of the crime for which they have been convicted, they may well be guilty of a crime. but it would appear you are advocating the far right mantra it is better to convict someone than no one. The right to silence dates back to the oldest piece of legislation in our statute books the Statutes of Westminster; The First 1275 No 1 (as at 03 September 2007), Imperial Act.
    False Confession rank prominently in the causes of miscarriages of justice but fall well short of the main causes, mistaken identification and the other major cause police misconduct which figure in 80% and 65% of miscarriages.
    Police Misconduct cover areas like falsifying evidence, planting evidence, tunnel vision and its close cousin, noble cause corruption.
    New Zealand police have powers that Stalin would have approved of and no effective oversight if those powers are breached as demonstrated by the recent Op Tam IPCA report which is stacked with factual “errors” and assumptions.
    I just cannot believe you advocate the accused should lose the one right they have left, the right to not incriminate themselves because going into the bin with that right is the presumption of innocence till proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and the crown with the full resources of the state need do nothing and the Accuser with nothing has to prove his innocence.

  4. Ed Rademaker
    9 November 2010 at 1:46 am

    Sorry, Bob, but you seem to be arguing in a similar way to the anti-smacking brigade, ie. some people are abusing children in the name of discipline, so we need to outlaw all physical discipline; and so, some people are abusing the right to silence in order to hide their guilt, so we need to take this right away from all people, whether innocent or not.

  5. Bob
    15 November 2010 at 6:47 pm

    There is an important balance to be struck here. There should be compulsion on adults – responsible for caring for a child/ren – to make explanation for injuries that the child may have suffered while in their care – this is because of the vulnerability of the child. Children have a right to be and to feel safe, and for adults to know that they will be accountable for thier actions. This may involve a level of reversing the onus of proof because of vulnerability of the child. As we said, the rights of victims (and children who are killed by their so-called caregivers) to justice and the urgent need for offenders to be held accountable far outweighs the right to silence and other privileges that families may seek to use to mask their guilt or involvement.

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