Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tasmania Law Reform Institute Paper on Protecting Anonymity of Sexual Crime Victims

The Tasmania Law Reform Institute in Australia  has released an issues paper on Protecting the Anonymity of Victims of Sexual Crimes:
"Victims  of  sexual  crimes often wish  to  remain  anonymous,  or  at  the very  least not have people  they know, or  the wider community know about  the fact that they were assaulted. Traditionally, one result of this has been reluctance by victims  to  report  sexual  assault. Partly  in  an  effort  to  encourage  victims  to come forward, as well as wishing to respect a victim’s wish for privacy, the law has introduced restrictions on the reporting (predominantly by the media) of the identity  of  victims.  In  other  words,  when  reporting  on  police  investigations, court proceedings, and so on, the media are not allowed to disclose the identity of a victim of sexual assault. In Tasmania this rule is primarily found in s 194K of  the Evidence Act  2001  (Tas). While  this  rule may  seem  straightforward,  in practice difficulties  can  arise  in determining  exactly what  information  can  and cannot  be  released.  This  was  recently  exemplified  in  the  Tasmanian  case concerning the prostitution of a 12-year-old girl by her mother and her mother’s friend, Gary John Devine. Neither the girl’s nor her mother’s name was reported in  the media, yet  the  reporting of Devine’s name, as well as some other details relating  to  the  case,  could have  led many people, particularly  those who knew Devine,  the  mother  or  the  girl,  to  identify  her (...)"
"This Issues Paper will give detailed consideration to the background and policy behind the rule, how it has been interpreted and applied in the past, how it should be applied  in  the future, whether  legislative reform  is desirable  to aid  in its application, and if so, what kind of reform is appropriate"
The paper compares the law in Tasmania with the situation in a number of other jurisdictions including other parts of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:35 pm


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