Evidence (Children and Special Witnesses) Amendment Bill 2013 (TAS)

Monday 2 September 2013 @ 9.06 a.m. | Judiciary, Legal Profession & Procedure

Earlier in the sitting session, the Evidence (Children and Special Witnesses) Amendment Bill 2013 was introduced to the Tasmanian House of Assembly to enhance the protections available to children and other vulnerable people who are obliged to give evidence in a criminal trial

The Evidence (Children and Special Witnesses) Act 2001 (TAS) sets out protections which apply to the giving of evidence by children and any other person the court deems to be a “special witness”. The protections apply automatically only to an “affected child”, which is currently a child who is the victim of a sexual offence, a child exploitation offence, ill-treatment or abduction, or a child who is involved in child protection or family violence matters.

The only exception to this limited scope is the right of any child in any proceeding to have a support person near when giving evidence.

The Bill expands the definitions of “affected child” and “prescribed proceeding” to include serious violence offences as well as sexual offences.

This change will bring Tasmania into line with other jurisdictions where to protections apply to offences of serious violence as well as sexual offences.

The Bill also inserts in the Act a set of general principles to be applied to child witnesses when conducting a trial.

These include:

  • Pre-recording of evidence given by children;
  • Special provisions relating to cross-examination of child witnesses;
  • A statement of principles for dealing with child witnesses; and
  • Prevention of cross-examination of child witnesses by unrepresented accused

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All information gained from TimeBase LawOne downloads attached to the Bill.

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