Justice Minister will introduce bill making stalking illegal by end of year

Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith has committed to introduce a bill that would make stalking illegal by the end of the year.

Previously, he had only committed to doing so within the political term.

The news comes the same day New Zealand’s most prolific stalker Antonio Glen Castillano – also known as Glenn Green – was sentenced to four years and two months imprisonment.

Goldsmith was accepting a petition created by the Coalition for the Safety of Women and Children and AVA Anti-Violence Action that was signed by more than 20,000 people.

He acknowledged the need for a change in legislation.

“We agree with that, we want to do it, and it’s my commitment that we will get a Bill into the House before the end of the year.

“We need to send a very clear, clear message that society does not tolerate stalking, and nor does it tolerate sexual violence anywhere across the board.

“There’s been a lot of concern raised and a desire to get onto this faster,” he later added to media.

“We’ve looked at the … drafts that have been developed and we think there’s something we can do before the end of the year, and I’ve frankly told my officials to hurry up and do it as fast as we can.”

Stalking petition presented at parliament

The petition called for making stalking illegal, as well as introducing prevention measures such as educating police, public awareness campaigns and training for social and community workers in prevention and victim protection.

It stated New Zealand’s laws were out of date in comparison with the US, Australia, England, Wales and the European Union where stalking has been criminalised, and called for women’s safety needs to have a higher political priority.

Change of heart due to petition – organiser

Coalition for the Safety of Women and Children chairperson Leonie Morris helped organise the petition.

She said they have had many conversations with the Minister about stalking, and previously he had only committed to making a change within the political term.

“Up until now it has always been soon, but not that soon.

“But now, thanks to all of you here, and thanks to the over 20,000 people who signed the petition he’s committed to working on it this year.”

Stalking petition presented at parliament

Terri Greenhalch came to the event because she believed the law change was one thing that really needed to be done for women.

“I’ve been a women’s activist for about 50 years and I think we’ve still got a long long way to go.”

Holly Carrington from the Women’s Refuge spoke at the event, describing some experiences of women who had been stalked.

“He would constantly message me on all my social media. He would call my house phone and my mobile phone and my friends’ phones. He would post things on Facebook about me.

“It was very very scary. It was extremely isolating and it got to the point where I couldn’t function anymore. I was struggling to go to work. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. He was relentless. It was every day, every night, early morning, late at night. There was never a time that I could escape it, ever.”

Morris believed there was not enough emphasis in New Zealand placed on keeping women safe.

“We have horrendous statistics. We have good services from the Women’s Refuge and others, but we don’t have hardly any prevention work. There needs to be a lot more prevention work.

“And the police need to have a better understanding of domestic violence. They understand physical violence, but a lot of domestic violence is psychological and we need them to have more training about that.”

Bill ‘ready to go’ – Labour

Greens co-leader Marama Davidson, who was formerly the Violence Prevention minister, and Labour’s spokesperson for the prevention of sexual violence, Ginny Andersen, also spoke at the event.

Stalking petition presented at parliament

Andersen currently has a Member’s Bill that would add stalking to the Crimes Act and penalise it with a five- year prison sentence.

She said a law change was long overdue, and she was calling for cross-party support.

If 61 MPs who are not part of the executive support a bill, it can bypass the ballot and go straight to a First Reading.

“It’s ready to go right now. We’ve got a written bill that’s in the ballot, all it would take is the support of those parties for it to receive a First Reading. So it’s ready, right now.”

When asked why she had not made the change while Labour was in power, Andersen said they had policy work underway.

“We had policy in place that we then took and campaigned on in the last election.

“We made a lot of changes to improve safety for women. One of the biggest changes we saw was introducing a standalone offence for strangulation that saw a huge increase in reports of that type of offending.”

Goldsmith said the government would work on its own bill rather than adopting Andersen’s.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

Related News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button