Australia

SA may remove sex defendants' anonymity

The Marshall government will consider sex suppression law changes. (AAP)

The South Australian government is considering changing a law which grants automatic anonymity to alleged sex offenders.

Alleged sex offenders would lose their right to automatic anonymity under a law change proposed by the South Australian government.

Under the the state's Evidence Act, the name of an alleged sex offender is automatically prohibited from publication before a guilty plea or a finding of guilt by the court, or prior to committal for trial in a higher court.

But Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said several court cases over recent years have exposed the public's right to know an an alleged offender's identity.

"No other class of defendant is afforded the same protection," she said.

"In the absence of compelling reason, I believe it's fair that all persons charged with committing crimes are treated equally."

Ms Chapman said the historic reason for the suppression is to protect the reputation of a person charged with a sex offence then found not guilty.

"While other serious offences may also attract some stigma, sexual offences are viewed as particularly abhorrent by the community and may taint the reputation of a person even if they are acquitted," she said.

"However, the principle of open justice and the flow of information to the community should be treated as paramount.

"In these circumstances, I believe the adverse effects on some accused are outweighed by the public interest in having an open system of justice."

Ms Chapman noted the changes will not impact the identity protections afforded to the victims of sexual offences, or a different section of the Act which allows for the imposition of case-specific suppression orders.

The government is currently undergoing a consultation process with the courts, justice agencies, legal community and advocacy bodies.

Following that, a draft bill will be prepared for the parliament.

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