Labor must fix Bill that will gag families of victims of crime

At present, families can discuss their deceased loved ones who were victims of sexual assault in public but Labor’s Bill will gag these families.

In the County Court last Friday, Judge McInerney determined that the existing law relating to the naming of victims of sexual assault does not apply to deceased persons.

However, Labor’s Bill, currently before the Legislative Council and due for debate tomorrow, expressly prohibits the naming of deceased sexual assault victims; silencing family members who have lost loved ones.

This law will gag, for the first time, the families of deceased sexual assault victims from speaking out about their loved ones.

The erroneously titled Justice Legislation Amendment (Supporting Victims and Other Matters) Bill 2020 will disgracefully stop families from speaking about their lost family member, including while advocating for law reform.

The County Court has made it clear: the existing prohibition on naming living sexual assault survivors without a court order does not apply to a deceased person under the Judicial Proceedings Reports Act 1958.

Daniel Andrews and Labor’s Attorney-General, Jill Hennessy, have refused to listen to victims of crime, the families of deceased sexual assault victims and legal experts about the flaws in their Bill.

Labor must, today, demonstrate they respect the decision of the Court and move amendments to its legislation so that this shocking gag does not become law.

Comments attributable to Shadow Attorney-General, Edward O’Donohue:

“The recent County Court decision puts to rest any debate about whether the families of deceased sexual assault victims can currently speak publicly about their deceased loved one - they can.

“Labor’s outrageous attempts to silence suffering families of deceased victims of sexual assault are callous, arrogant and disrespectful.

“By choosing to ignore the calls from victims, advocates and the families of those who have already suffered so much, Labor are choosing secrecy over openness and are trampling on the legitimate rights of victims’ families to speak out.”

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