INDEPENDENT NEWS

Access to justice for suicide bereaved families and whānau

Published: Mon 2 Dec 2019 04:28 PM
A petition by Corinda Taylor from the Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust will be presented on Tuesday the 3rd December at 1pm at the Wellington Cenotaph next to Parliament. The petition will be handed over to Green MP Chloe Swarbrick.
Mrs Taylor will be available for comment at the Wellington Cenotaph from 1pm.
The petition is calling for the Ministry of Justice to appoint more coroners and introduce free legal representation for suicide bereaved families and expert witnesses equivalent to that of any state bodies, public authorities, and corporate bodies represented, and note that 3,834 people have signed an online petition in support of this request. This is to ensure a level playing field at inquests and inquiries.
Taylor says the current process, especially with the added stress of not being provided access to free legal counsel, is brutal on bereaved families. Feedback from bereaved
families tells us that more support and help is needed to navigate the coronial system.
“The legal fees alone would cripple most families whilst they are vulnerable and grieving”. Many suicide bereaved families have also identified they have been waiting for years for a coronial investigation. This highlights a profound injustice towards these families, whose objective is to bring about changes and expose the truth to prevent future deaths, so others do not have to suffer what they have.
Taylor says without funded representation, families are denied their voice and meaningful participation in the processes of investigation, learning and accountability.
The truth may also become a casualty.
This is a matter of public interest and yet so many are alone in their fight for funding.
“This is not what justice looks like.”

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