Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Murder victims' families fight for justice

Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0900.htm

FAMILIES of murder victims joined forces at the weekend to launch a charter calling for tougher sentencing. The National Victims' Association (NVA), formerly the North East Victims' Association (NEVA), held its 10th annual conference at the Little Haven Hotel, in South Shields, which also saw ministers from the top three political parties in the hot seat. The conference, which the charity's organisers say may be their last due to a lack of funding, brought together more than 80 families from across UK including the parents of Sarah Payne and James Bulger all demanding changes to the criminal justice system. The event was used as a launch pad for NVA's new 16 point victims' charter which, among other things, calls for mandatory full-life sentences for murderers, the removal of convicted murderers'right to pursue human rights legal action, and a mandatory eight-year minimum sentence for carrying guns or knives. Family members also spoke of the need for investment in medical care for victims' families, counselling, funding for appeals, transparency in police investigations and independent inquiries, and for justice after acquittals. Home Office under secretary of state Vernon Coaker, shadow justice minister David Burrowes and Liberal Democrat spokesman Alan Beith all attended the event and pledged to do more for victims' families, Mr Coaker promised to do everything he could to help with funding for the NVA. He said: "There is no doubt the victim's voice has not been heard as loudly as it should be, that the victim's voice sometimes gets lost in the system and we do have to try to do more in respect to that." Later, he added: "It cannot be right that the people related to victims of some of the worst crimes we have seen in our country feel that the system lets them down."

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