A bid by a National backbench MP to make it illegal for paedophiles to change their names has been rejected.

Jian Yang's private member's bill would have made child sex offenders ineligible to register a new name, and was designed to make it more difficult for them to reoffend.

It was found to be inconsistent with the right to freedom of expression, and Ministry of Justice officials warned that it would have little effect on minimising harm from paedophiles while possibly harming their attempts at rehabilitation.

In a report released last week, Parliament's social services committee said that the bill should not be passed into law.


Committee chairman and National MP Alfred Ngaro said an alternative solution had been found which did not raise the same human rights concerns.

A child sex offenders register, which is being considered by Parliament, could be amended to require anyone on the register to get approval from the Police Commissioner if they wanted to change their name.

Mr Ngaro said that giving offenders an opportunity to change their name, at the discretion of the commissioner, meant no human rights laws would be breached.

Dr Yang supported the committee's proposal and has withdrawn his member's bill.

Attorney-General Chris Finlayson said that the bill's limits to freedom of expression could not be justified.

Stopping offenders from changing their names was described as "disproportionate" because it was permanent and non-discretionary.

The Ministry of Justice's legal advisers said that the law change could also hinder an offender's rehabilitation or reintegration into society, in particular offenders who were victims of child abuse themselves.

They warned that the bill would have had a "negligible" effect because there was no legal requirement to register a name to use it.

A person was not legally obliged to provide their registered name or any other information unless it was specifically stated in law.

Therefore, the bill would not have prevented paedophiles from committing identity fraud or from falsely using another person's name.

A drafting error meant that the law change had a very wide scope and would have captured not only sex offenders but also some violent offenders.