Coroners to get more powers in bid to unlock unresolved cases

Published Wednesday, 20 May, 2020 at 06:55 PM

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice
The Honourable Yvette D'Ath

Coroners will get more powers to compel witnesses to give potentially self-incriminating evidence at an inquest, under new laws passed by State Parliament.

Acting Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Stirling Hinchliffe said the laws aim to unlock longstanding unresolved cases.

“While coroners were handed powers to require self-incriminating evidence from witnesses in 2003, this only applied to deaths occurring after that date,” he said.

“For deaths prior to 2003, witnesses could refuse to give self-incriminating evidence, which made it harder for coroners to find out what actually happened.

“This led to the creation of a ‘hard core’ of remaining cases that have not received the benefit of the modern coronial regime and remain unresolved to this day.

“By allowing coroners to compel witnesses to give self-incriminating evidence for deaths occurring prior to 2003, we hope to see some of these cases resolved.”

Mr Hinchliffe said appropriate safeguards are included in the Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019, which amends the Coroners Act 2003.

“The coroner may not require a person to give evidence that may incriminate them unless satisfied it is in the public interest,” he said.

“Further, evidence given is not admissible against a person in any criminal proceeding, with the exception of perjury.

“These are important and necessary changes to Queensland’s coronial system and we’re confident they will serve the interests of justice.”

Media contact: Martin Philip 0407 675 008