November 10, 2014
Calm heads needed on racial justice
A reform campaigner says a spat between Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell and former police minister Anne Tolley over whether the justice system is racist is unhelpful.
Kim Workman from Rethinking Crime and Punishment says race may not be the only reason the percentage of Maori appearing before the Youth Court has gone up despite the overall number of young people appearing before the court going down.
He says claims of institutional racism feed a community backlash, while denying it exists is disingenuous, given the experience of most Maori whanau.
What is needed is a review which can ask questions like whether Maori are getting bail at the same rate as non-Maori, whether they are getting the same access to legal advice, and whether police are being even-handed.
"Responses to Maori differ significantly from one region to another so you might have one region that apprehends and charges Maori to a far greater degree than another and that may be about the culture within that region, so we have to address that," Mr Workman says.
He wants to see the Iwi Leaders Forum and the Maori Council support a wide-ranging review, before of the percentage of young Maori appearing before the courts gets even bigger.
FOR THE FULL INTERVIEW WITH KIM WORKMAN CLICK ON THE LINK
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