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More Pacific input needed around criminal justice system in New Zealand

23 August 2018

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

By Lisa Williams-Lahari- lisa.williams@pmn.co.nz 

A New Zealand advocate for youth and families says there needs to be honest talk and deeper engagement beyond the just ended criminal justice summit.

Tokotoko Solutions Director Isopo Samu is amongst those disappointed at the lack of greater visibility for Pasifika challenges and solutions on the Criminal Justice Summit that was held this week in Wellington, but he says the main focus now is to stop history repeating itself.

The Associate Minister for Justice and the Courts and Minister for Pacific peoples Aupito William Sio said more needs to be done to bring back Pacific voices missing from the top table at this weeks summit.

"At some stage we will have to make our voices known, where and what about the strategy for Pacific people given that we are the fastest growing the youngest population and also that the statistics hold out that our young people often commit the most serious offences."

Associate Minister for Justice and Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio and delegates at Criminal Justice Summit. Photo/ PMN.

Minister for Corrections Kelvin Davis said more needs to be done to support Maori and Pacific people in prisons.

"We're trying to reduce the prison population by 30 percent over 15 years, that includes trying to reduce the Maori and Pacific populations from prison."

"It would be good to have more Pacific representation at this summit , so that is something we need to work on to make sure the Pacific voice is heard," said Mr Davis.

Minister of  Police Stuart Nash was also at the summit and says it's important that the community have their say to talk about the future of the criminal justice system in New Zealand.

Mr Nash says the issues are complex and we have to have the hard talk.

"It's about a cultural shift as well as an operational shift as well, what we've heard hear is that people feel disengaged, people feel disrespected and that's both offenders and victims."

Mr Nash says Pacific people's views and opinions are important and encourages people to share their stories.

" It's a conversation we have to have with everyone  including Pasifika, but also keep in mind, there will be hui up and down the country addressing these issues, and I have no doubt that Pasifika will have a chance to share their stories in a really meaningful way."

More than 600 people took part in the two day summit to discuss reducing offending, reducing re-offending, and having fewer victims of crime who are better supported.

Tags: Pacific, Justice,