written parliamentary questions on section 59 answered, "we don't know"
National MP Judith Collins has had a response to some written questions surrounding how many people have been acquitted in court after using a defence of reasonable force, as currently permitted by section 59 of the Crimes Act.
The Justice Ministry doesn't have a clue how many were acquitted using section 59 of the Crimes Act, as itkeeps no statistics on this.
The Ministry does have figures for how many people were found guilty of unjustified use of force on a child, its just that its database does not record the type of defence used, and is therefore unable to identify when a Section 59 defence was actually used.
But figures I have indicate that most people who use S59 as a defence are found guilty of assault. Furthermore, most who are found guilty of using unjustifiable force didn't use S59 as a defence, because it would not have succeeded as their abuse didnt meet the strict criteria for a successful S59 defence.
Ministry figures show that 200 people were found guilty of unjustified use of force on a child last year, with most sentenced to community work or supervision. Since 1991 the number of people convicted each year for unjustified use of force on a child dropped under 150 just twice - in 1991 and 1992.
Child advocates may care to take a long hard look at the mumber of children taken from Child Youth and Family foster parents for abuse -when they were supposedly safe in the hands of the smack-free state. More people have been taken away from CYFS foster parents each year than the combined section 59 defences in court - both sucessful and unsucessful - during the past 10 years at least.
Helen Clark, Steve Maharey, Ruth Dyson etc are happy for parents to be potential criminals for lightly smacking their kids. It's about time those politicians who know least about having children came down to earth, observed the facts, and listened.
Comparatively, section 59 is rarely used in cases of unjustifiable force. Fewer than 0.5 percent of those found guilty of unjustifiable use of force used section 59 as a defence.
So how can child advocates provide evidence that getting rid of this section will fix up our child abuse statistics, when clearly, nearly all child abusers don't even use the defence when brought before the court?