A bill that will establish a commission to focus on possible miscarriages of justice will be considered by a committee of MPs after passing its first reading in Parliament today.
Justice Minister Andrew Little's bill, which passed without the support of the National Party, will establish a Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).
"This bill is an important commitment by this coalition Government to provide a much-needed safety valve to our criminal justice system," Little said.
"The CCRC will focus on miscarriages of justice and is a direct response to concerns by many New Zealanders over wrongful convictions such as Teina Pora," he said in a statement.
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The CCRC will be an independent body to review convictions and sentences where there is a suspected miscarriage of justice.
It will be able to refer cases back to the appeal courts but will not determine guilt or innocence. It will replace the referral power currently exercised by the Governor-General under section 406 of the Crimes Act 1961.
It will also be able to receive applications from any living convicted person or their representative and, where it is in the public interest, make initial inquiries on its own initiative where it has concerns.
"Other key aspects of the bill include the test for referring cases back to the courts, the CCRC's information-gathering powers and the relationship the CCRC will have with the royal prerogative of mercy," Little said.
The public will be able to make submissions on the bill while it is with the justice select committee.
The establishment of the commission was part of Labour and New Zealand First's coalition agreement.