20 May 2024

Stalking legislation review potentially next year - but could take longer

11:18 pm on 20 May 2024
National MP Paul Goldsmith

Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

The Justice Minister is hoping to review harassment laws next year following growing pressure for stalking to be made a specific crime, but won't be drawn on an exact date.

An open letter has called on Paul Goldsmith to make good on pre-election statements where he criticised the previous government for dragging its feet in this area.

The companion petition has been signed by almost 8000 people.

The issue has gathered momentum since Auckland student Farzana Yaqubi was brutally stabbed to death by a stalker in 2022 after she had already complained to police about him, saying she feared for her life.

Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith told Checkpoint the government had already indicated they would consider stalking legislation in this term.

"We recognise that there is an issue here ... we think the people in this petition have made a very good case.

"The good news is they've helped enormously by coming up with some pretty good draft legislation that can advance things quicker.

"But we recognise this year we have a very full slate of justice commitments that we're working our way through, that we want to deal with first, then we move onto this."

Goldsmith said the government has been working to tackle the issue around gangs and there was also work around sentencing laws, including restoring three strikes legislation, looking at youth offenders and also capping discounts for sentencing.

When asked whether women being stalked and then murdered was of less importance than those pieces of work, Goldsmith said, "Frankly, that's not a helpful way to describe it at all".

"We have clear commitments that we've made and that we're working our way through and we can't do everything all at once."

Goldsmith said he appreciated the impatience around the stalking legislation.

"I hope to be able to deliver [the stalking legislation] next year, but certainly this term."

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