Sunday, 17 August 2008

Queensland: Shine Urges Community Comment on Discussion Paper


By Stephen Page

I have set out below a Ministerial Media Release by Queensland Attorey-General Kerry Shine. The issue at the centre of the review, namely whether the defence of provovation to murder, is one directly related to family breakdown. In research, such as the book "Blood on whose Hands" there is a suggestion that courts have not allowed a proper consideration of a prior domestic violence history in consideration of murder charges against men from former relationships, allowing those men to be found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter when they have stated that they were "provoked" into assaulting the victims, causing their deaths. The assertion is that if a prior domestic violence history were shown, the men may have been convicted of murder.

The Media Release:

Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Kerry Shine has urged interested people to make a submission to the Queensland Law Reform Commission's discussion paper, A Review of the Defence of Provocation.

The Commission has today released its second discussion paper as part of its review of the excuse of accident and the defence of provocation.

"The QLRC was commissioned to undertake this important work after my department carried out some preliminary work in this area in response to community concern after a number of court decisions where accident and provocation were relied upon," Mr Shine said.

"Like the QLRC's earlier discussion paper on the defence of accident, this discussion will explore issues which were raised by stakeholders responding to the Government's discussion paper on the issue and it is right that the QLRC seeks further input on these important matters."

Mr Shine said the defence of provocation has been an important part of our criminal law for centuries.

"Any change to the law requires careful consideration. That is why the Government referred this matter to the Queensland Law Reform Commission, which is best placed to give it the consideration it deserves.

"An audit of all homicide cases over the past five years did not disclose any undue reliance on these defences.

"We reviewed 80 murder trials and 20 manslaughter trials and what we found was that there were very few occasions where either accident or provocation were the only defences to be considered by the jury.

"On most occasions juries had other defences to consider in addition to accident or provocation."

"It's clear these new issues need to be carefully considered before any decision is made to change the law. This discussion paper gives everyone with an interest in law reform an opportunity to submit their views for consideration."

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