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Push to let SA crime victims speak freely

Victims of crime in South Australia may soon be able to speak freely in victim impact statements as the state government looks to prevent lawyers editing their words.

Under current rules, the defence and prosecution can make changes to remove material from the statements that may be inadmissible.

But Attorney-General Kyam Maher says that should be the responsibility of the judge or magistrate, not counsel.

“The preparation and presentation of a victim impact statement is a victim’s opportunity to tell their story to the sentencing court,” Mr Maher said.

“That story should be in the victim’s voice and should allow space for the victim to communicate their views without filter.

“Judges and magistrates are well-placed to resolve any issues around the admissibility of content.”

The government will consult with the legal sector and victim advocates on changes to the Sentencing Act to remove any ability to edit a victim’s statement, regardless of its content.

The proposed changes follow criticism from the family of a murder victim who had their statement edited three times before it was presented to the court.

Some of the changes came in the minutes leading up to the court hearing.

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