Our Domestic Work

Criminal Justice System in Aotearoa


Transformation is needed

Transformation is needed across our criminal justice system, and there are pathways forward, such as that set out by , which builds on extensive work done by other researchers and advocates before them, including the hugely influential paper ‘He Whapaanga Hou’ by Moana Jackson.

We call on Minister Allan and Minister Davis to carry on the impetus for transformational change, building on the work above in order to ensure our systems are fair and just, uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the human rights and dignity of all.

While this work is carried out changes should be made to try and reduce harm currently occurring.


In the adult criminal justice system, we’re advocating for a number of policies to reduce harm, ranging from an overhaul of the complaints system, addressing concerning use of force practices to strengthening how prisons monitor and report on minimum entitlements.

In the youth justice space policies that can reduce harm include for example, widening the jurisdiction of the Youth Court so that no child or young person is tried in adult court, abolishing life sentences for children and young people, and raising the criminal age to at least 14 years. This by Associate Professor Nessa Lynch, Professor Ian Lambie, former Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft and Tamara Wilson-Tasi describes in more detail what these changes could be and why they’re important.

Aotearoa Justice Watch

As part of our work in criminal justice, we have joined with JustSpeak, the NZ Council for Civil Liberties and People Against Prison's Aotearoa to form Aotearoa Justice Watch (AJW). AJW provides a way for people to record issues they are experiencing or seeing in the policing or prisons space. This helps to uncover what's happening and support advocacy efforts. The information on the types of issues people submit on is made available so it can be used by everyone helping to advance change. It's important to note that any information released is anonymised so no person who has submitted can be identified.



Our most recent campaign focuses on raising the age of criminal age responsibility to at least 14 years, starting with an immediate change to 12 and then a change to 14 years once necessary changes have been made to the care and protection system.

A raise to 12 years old should happen immediately because in practice all offending by 10-11 year olds is dealt with in the care and protection system. The only exception is in relation to murder and manslaughter however there have been no reported cases of children aged 10 or 11 committing murder or manslaughter since the 1970s.