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No more secrets, we must protect victims


VICTIMS of crime say 2010 must be the year South Australia sheds its "secret state" reputation and puts their rights ahead of the privacy of criminals.
A northern suburbs family has called for change because the identity of the man who molested their 14-year-old daughter remains suppressed - despite his conviction for indecent assault.
"Our state has been full of secrets for a long time, from the Family murders to the abuse of children in care," the girl's father said.
"You can't continue to suppress names and let people walk away with their crimes hidden. If (Premier) Mike Rann wants to go to the election saying he's tough on crime, he should get rid of unnecessary suppression orders and show respect to victims, not criminals."
Last month, the Court of Criminal Appeal dismissed the paedophile's challenge to his indecent assault conviction.
The court heard that, between January and May 2006, he sexually assaulted a 14- year-old girl kept in his care.
He is due to be sentenced in the District Court this month - his name remains suppressed despite the conviction.
Under state law, the identities of alleged sex offenders are automatically suppressed until they enter a plea to the charges. They then apply for individual suppression orders, which judges reconsider when a trial ends or an appeal fails.
Although a 2007 amendment cut the number of orders granted, there were 21 imposed in December alone.
The girl's father said secrecy denied victims justice.
A spokesman for Attorney-General Michael Atkinson claimed change had already occurred, saying: "We have made changes to ensure SA leads the nation on providing a voice for victims of crime at each step on the road to justice."
Opposition legal affairs spokeswoman Vickie Chapman said suppression orders should be reviewed after sentencing, not conviction.

AAP 2-1-2010
Sean Fewster


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