The Government has moved to establish an independent body tasked with addressing miscarriages of justice.
Justice Minister Andrew Little has introduced a bill to the House which would establish a Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) – an independent body for addressing miscarriages of justice.
The establishing of this commission was part of the Labour and New Zealand First Coalition agreement, signed in October last year.
The CCRC will review convictions and sentences where there is a suspected miscarriage of justice in a "timely, fair and independent", manner Little said.
"Given the resources the state puts into securing a conviction, I believe there is good reason for it to put adequate resources into correcting mistakes that may have been made," Little said.
He adds that the Government has consulted with other countries – which also have implemented CCRCs – about their experience with the commission.
Senior New Zealand lawyers and academics have also had their say and have contributed to the bill.
Currently, if a person who has been convicted of an offence believes they have suffered a miscarriage of justice, they may apply to the Governor-General for the exercise of the Royal prerogative of mercy.
If this bill is passed, the CCRC would refer cases back to the appeal courts. It would not, however, determine guilt or innocence.
The Commission will have power to undertake inquiries into practice, policy, procedure, or other matters it considers to be related to miscarriages of justice.
It would be an independent Crown entity, with a membership of no fewer than three but no more than seven Commissioners.
"I look forward to the Select Committee's consideration of this Bill and welcome public submissions on the bill," said Little.
The CCRC will replace the referral power currently exercised by the Governor-General under section 406 of the Crimes Act 1961.