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Submission on the Crimes (Provocation Repeal) Amendment Bill

by Peter Zohrab 2009

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This submission is as much about Constitutional issues as it is about the actual Bill which is under consideration.

The Constitutional issue is the reasons why this Bill has appeared on the Parliamentary agenda at all. I think we all know what the reasons are, and they demonstrate that New Zealand is no more a Democracy than are (for example) Somalia or North Korea. One day, large numbers of people will wake up to this fact, and draw the necessary conclusions.

The two reasons are:

  1. The Law Commission has recommended the change which the Bill implements;

  2. The media (especially television) chose to give huge and biased coverage to one particular court case, in preference to all the many other court cases that must have been going on at the same time. Moreover, I suspect that at least some elements of the media did this specifically in order to promote the abolition of the Provocation defence.

Neither the Law Commission nor the media are democratic institutions. So what we have are two undemocratic institutions virtually determining (in this, and many other cases) what the laws of New Zealand are going to be.

But it is worse than that. Both the Law Commission and the media operate on the basis of the principle:

"It's Women, Stupid!"

The Law Commission has long run on a Feminist agenda. Even when Fathers' Rights protests forced a review of some aspects of Family Law, the Law Commission put a woman in charge of the review and recommended minimal changes, as regards the Fathers' Rights agenda. It is typical of the Law Commission that it should now be headed by a former Labour Party politician.

Specifically, as regards the Provocation defence, the Law Commission has both recommended its abolition and also recommended the adoption of the Battered Woman defence – largely on the grounds that the Provocation defence was more useful to men than to women.

It is quite clear that this Bill has been introduced as a reflex action, in the face of the hysteria generated by media coverage of the Clayton Weatherston case. Therefore, I attach, as an appendix, the text of a webpage which I have written about media and blogosphere coverage of his case.


Specific Submissions

I submit that the (partial) defence of Provocation should be retained, unless the Battered Woman's Syndrome is also explicitly abolished in the same Act.

The Explanatory Note to this Bill states:

Concerns have been raised that the partial defence of provocation enables an accused to tarnish a victim's character, without the victim being able to respond to the accused's allegations or version of events.

That applies just as well to the Battered Woman's defence, but no one in New Zealand seems to care about men's characters being tarnished.

The Explanatory Note to this Bill also states:

It has been concluded that the partial defence is fundamentally flawed, in that it assumes ordinary, reasonable people, when confronted with severe provocation, will act with homicidal loss of control, when in fact (my emphasis) only extraordinary people do.

It is hard to characterise this statement as anything other than a barefaced lie. What scientific evidence could the author of that statement possibly have which would enable her to use the phrase in fact in connection with the opinion that ordinary people would not react in that way? It is ethically impossible, as far as I can see, to construct an experiment which would establish how, in fact, an ordinary person would react in such circumstances. And how do you define "ordinary"? I have studied Abnormal and Therapeutic Psychology, and it is clear to me that Psychologists and Psychiatrists are ludicrously far from being able to define "ordinary" in an appropriate sense for present purposes, and also far from being able, therefore, to determine how an "ordinary" person would react.

The Explanatory Note to this Bill also states:

Further, there is considerable unease that a successful claim of provocation effectively rewards a lack of self-control for those who intentionally take another's life.

Again, no one seems to feel any unease that successful pleading of the Battered Woman's defence also rewards a lack of self-control for those who intentionally take another's life. Of course, the life involved is only that of a man, and the media and the Law Commission are not interested in that!

It is symptomatic of the gross sexism inherent in this Bill that the Ministry of Women's Affairs was consulted in the process of drafting it, but not the Ministry of Men's Affairs. Yes, I know that there is no Ministry of Men's Affairs!




See also:




Peter Douglas Zohrab

Latest Update

18 May 2017