New options for settling historical abuse claims suggested

New options for investigating and settling historical abuse claims are needed, says legal counsel Simon Mount.

Mount told the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions last week that change was needed.

The commission was in its second and final week of hearings into redress for people in state care between 1950 and 1999.

Its next public hearings start later this month when the focus will be on redress for faith-based abuse claimants.

A number of victims over the last year have told the Commission during private and at public hearings they are being re-traumatised when cases get to court.

They want a fairer and more just system.

Mount, who is the counsel assisting the commission asked Solicitor-General Una Jagose whether a different system could be modelled on Waitangi Tribunal. The Tribunal is an independent body, which focuses specifically on treaty claims.

Nothing like that exists for settling historical abuse claims.

A critical feature of the tribunal’s success is its independence, Mount told Jagose.

While Jagose agreed independence is a feature, she said there were other aspects that also helped.

It has a different mode of operating, and among the many things that go into the mix of the tribunal’s successes, is that it’s
“much more inclined towards restoration of mana,” she said.

The commission also heard about other successful ways to settle claims that do not involve going to court. Dispute resolution tribunals were offered a an example.

Jagose was asked why abuse claims procedures had not been changed to follow different models.

“There will be reasons to do with it not having priority in government that survivors would say it should have had. That those voices [were] not being heard sufficiently by those who get to make the choice to do something different,” it was suggested.

Jagose said the Law Commission was probably best suited to investigate alternatives to court action to resolve abuse claims.


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News category: New Zealand.

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