Open letter to back a criminal corporate manslaughter law

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Pike River Family members and Health and Safety campaigners Anna Osborne and Sonya Rockhouse have asked every political party leader to back a criminal corporate manslaughter law. Help stand up for the rights of workers - join their call for justice and accountability.

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Open letter to back a criminal corporate manslaughter law

To Political Party Leaders:

The immense failure of accountability that we have recently seen in the dismissal of charges over the deaths and injuries of 47 people (22 dead, 25 survivors) at Whakaari/White Island has been yet another mark of shame on Aotearoa New Zealand.

Similarly, the failures of investigation and prosecution of the Pike Mine disaster, leading to an unlawful bargain being struck between the government H&S agency and Pike River CEO Peter Whittall, have left Pike River families without accountability.

It is clear to us, and to all New Zealanders, that there is an ongoing and systemic legislative, investigative, and prosecutorial failure to provide accountability for the hundreds of people who have died due to corporate misadventure since the Pike explosion.

This disregard for the lives of people who are killed at work, and through other forms of corporate negligence, needs to be addressed. Not to do so is to condemn future victims and survivors of such travesties to lifelong injustice and is a stain against Aotearoa New Zealand’s mana.

That is why we are calling for a political consensus on establishing corporate manslaughter into our criminal legislation. We want this legislation to enable accountability and to provide a material incentive for corporations, and all their officers at all levels, to act with a true duty of care to the people whose lives they are responsible for.

Having seen systematic and abysmal failures of investigation and prosecution by other government agencies, we believe that investigation of any corporate manslaughter law must rest with the New Zealand Police and prosecution with Crown Prosecutors.

It must also not reduce personal liability of individuals within corporate bodies whose decisions lead to deaths of New Zealanders and those who are visiting our shores.

As the political leaders of our nation, we are publicly asking you to support this call as a policy priority and we will be working to ensure that party positions on this matter will be highlighted as a matter of public record.

For more than a decade now, we have had discussions with Prime Ministers, Ministers, and governmental, and various other, spokespeople about the urgent need for greater protections against the actions of corporations that result in unnecessary tragedy. Over this time hundreds more have died in workplaces and few have had justice.

The need for accountability is still incredibly urgent. Please, take this opportunity to prevent hundreds more people dying in the future, by backing the introduction and passing of corporate manslaughter legislation.


Anna Osborne MNZM

Sonya Rockhouse MNZM