The furore over New Zealand's name suppression laws is going to be given a fresh impetus with the announcement that permanent name suppression has been granted to a "prominent" Manawatu man convicted of downloading more than 300,000 pornographic images, "many of them children":
"The man, who was charged with 25 counts of possessing objectionable material and one count of distributing pornographic images on the internet after an FBI investigation led to his arrest last year, was sentenced to four months' home detention when he appeared for sentencing in Palmerston North District Court yesterday."Furthermore, the man has escaped with nothing more than 4 months of home detention.
The FBI officers involved in the international operation must be sitting back and scratching their heads, wondering if their effort was worth it. The court's decision may give the impression that New Zealand is a pretty safe haven for paedophiles, especially those who can afford a good lawyer.
Why has this guy got off so lightly and why aren't the people in his local community entitled to know this deviant is living in their midst? The Judge Grant Fraser said:
"In this case there is no offending against any individuals within the New Zealand community. Therefore publicity in my view is not required to flush out any potential offenders or to enable members of the community to keep themselves safe from you."Can anyone be really sure of that? If his name had been made public how many people may have came forward and said "My child may have been telling me the truth when ...." now no-one will ever know. Are children suffering in silence? Whose rights are more important here, his or the community's?
If this man had been "offending against the local community" after his four months is up he is more or less free to resume activities and no-one is any the wiser. Meanwhile every other "prominent" man in Manawatu (how many are there?) has the finger of suspicion hovering over him for ever more.
Altogether a very unsatisfactory situation for everyone concerned, except of course for the man himself who isn't brave enough to front-up...perhaps he could take a couple of tips from the FBI's own motto "Fidelity. Bravery. Integrity."
Is it any wonder that some people are challenging the name suppression laws in New Zealand and doesn't this case illustrate perfectly well why they need to be changed.
There are bloggers out there who will now make it their business to reveal this man's name, think of the damage they will do if they get it wrong.
The whole situation is perfect mess.
See reactions to the judgement
Privileged name suppression furore, Sensible Sentencing Trust comments
Name suppression of Manawatu man condemned by child advocacy group
Name suppression farce continues
At least one sex attack in Palmerston North every week
Name Suppression for NZ muso
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