Time for the right to silence to be amended or abolished, says Children's Commissioner

The Children's Commissioner is calling for the abolishment of a law which allows defendants to stay silent after the brutal assault of a four-year-old Flaxmere boy.

The boy will be severely brain damaged as a result of the attack on 29 January.

Police are still appealing for the people responsible to come forward.

"I think [the right to silence] needs to be abolished or amended, and the fact you might incriminate yourself isn't a reason for not talking," Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft told The AM Show on Monday.

The right to remain silent means defendants can refuse to speak to police to avoid their words being used as evidence in court.

In 2006, during the trial of Chris Kahui for the murder of his twin babies Cris and Cru, the right to silence was evoked by the whole Kahui family. 

The extended family stonewalled the police and refused to speak up about who was responsible for the infants' eventually fatal injuries.

Kahui refused to give evidence during his 2008 trial for the murder of the twins. He was acquitted. 

No one was ever convicted of the murder of the babies. 

"The state can't force you to incriminate yourself and in my years as a lawyer and judge I held that dear," said Becroft.

"In this role I've come to the new that we need to take a serious look into that."
"I think we will be looking at it very closely."

He told The AM Show New Zealand's high rates of child abuse are the result of wider societal issues.

"For some families the almost toxic stress of homelessness, poverty, and drug addiction make it really hard for our children.

"It's an explanation but it's not an excuse - children deserve our best."