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Sunday: Naming convicted sex offenders

Published: 1:30PM Sunday April 27, 2014 Source: Sunday

  •  (Source: TVNZ)
    Source: TVNZ

Sunday asks whether we have a right to know who convicted sex offenders are, and where they are.

In Australia the debate is galvanising the public. On one side, those who believe a rehabilitated sex offender has the right to live anonymously in society - and on the other side, those who believe the public has a right to know who is living next door.

"People feel so angry, so frustrated and yet so helpless and so vulnerable," says Derryn Hinch, the Kiwi broadcaster who Australians call 'The Human Headline'. He is a strong believer in a publicly-accessible sex offenders' register and has launched a petition to lobby the Australian government.

"I should be allowed to know that the man living next door to me...if he has been jailed for five years for the rape and kidnap of a child. I have that right because my rights in the community are more important than his rights in the community."

A New Zealand Sex Offenders' Register is awaiting final approval from Cabinet. Access would be restricted to Police, Corrections and one or two other government agencies, but there will be no access to the public.

It is a system Hinch feels is flawed. "Your government is going to make the mistake that they're going to go halfway down the track. It doesn't go far enough because it's just...why does a certain amount of people have the right to know?"

Hinch's lengthy and relentless campaign to publicly identify rapists and paedophiles, has seen him jailed alongside the very people he despises most.

A judge ordered Hinch to pay a $100,000 fine or face 50 days in jail after he revealed details that were suppressed in a high profile trial of a man accused of rape and murder.

"I thought, I'm not going to pay that", so in January, just a year after a liver transplant, 70 year old Hinch went to prison.

"93% of the people there were sex offenders. Some of them would be the scum of the earth for some of the crimes they'd committed"

Being locked up with sex offenders made him even more convinced of the public's right to know who these men are, and where they go when they are released. His next move is to lobby the Australian government to name convicted sex offenders on a public register. More than 100,000 Australians have signed his register.

"I do believe that the general community in Australia wants this. And I believe we will have it."

You can see the story of Derryn Hinch - on Sunday at 7pm.

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