Welcome to JWs 4 Justice
This website has been established for a twofold purpose:
- To provide a sense of direction and guidance for victims/survivors of all forms of abuse (including sexual, physical, psychological) in any environment connected with congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in New Zealand, (past or present). The information here will also benefit individuals whose historical cases were previously mismanaged due to the (so-called) “judicial” system of Jehovah’s Witnesses, resulting in harmful or unsatisfactory outcomes.
- To provide relevant resources for anyone questioning the dependability and the moral justice of the beliefs and governing policies of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and in the process, introducing them to a growing, supportive network.
To get a more complete picture, we recommend that you proceed through the series of tabs at the top of this page.
The most significant development in addressing this escalating plague of abuse in New Zealand is being brought to the attention of the government and the public by means of The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions* that was established on 12 November, 2018, when the Government set the final Terms of Reference for the Inquiry, and is underway now.
(* Due to the long title of this Inquiry, for convenient reference in many documents you will see it has been abbreviated to “Abuse in Care”, however, it is understood that it also includes faith-based institutions.)
This is a golden opportunity for you to share your experience of the unfair and unjust treatment of your complaint and have it made known to, and taken into account by, the Royal Commission’s final recommendations to government. Your ‘say’ could actually assist in shaping a much fairer and more just way forward in the handling of future abuse complaints. As part of the Royal Commission investigation process you can arrange to participate in a Private Session.
Revelations about sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses underline the need for a community-wide response to child sexual abuse.
Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Case
Sharing your experience
How will the Inquiry use the Information from my Private Session?
Private Sessions will be recorded and a written version of your conversation with the Commissioner will be created afterwards. You can ask us to send a copy of this written version after your session.
The inquiry may use your information in a number of ways:
- To inform research that will be the basis of recommendations to help protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse and neglect in the future. For example, if survivors say that certain laws and policies did not protect them then analysing this information will help to show what needs to be changed.
- To create summaries of survivor’s experiences, statistical reports, or thematic reports. These may be published in written form or online so that we can tell the public how many survivors have shared their experiences, or to raise awareness of the issues by providing examples of what survivors have told us.
- To identify themes that will be investigated by the Inquiry and discussed in public hearings. For example, if lots of survivors talk about experiences in the same institution then this institution may become a theme to be investigated.
Will my information be kept private?
Yes, all information you provide is confidential. All Commissioners and staff have signed strict confidentiality agreements as part of their work. All support people attending a private session will be asked to confirm that they understand everything talked about in the session is confidential.
There are 4 important exceptions to this confidentiality.
- If you agree to give the information from your session to someone else. This includes sharing any notes you made, or if you made your own recording of the session.
- If you tell us about a current and serious risk to the health and safety of yourself or any other person (including a child or vulnerable adult), then the Inquiry will contact an appropriate person. This could include a mental health service or the police.
- If you tell us about serious criminal offending that is ongoing or planned for the future, then the Inquiry will contact the police.
- If a court orders the Inquiry to give them information. If this happened, the Inquiry would only give the information it had to so that the terms of the order were met.
A SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT YOUR PRIVACY
- The information from private sessions will be kept secure, and access is strictly limited to Inquiry staff who need it for a specific purpose.
- Published work from the Inquiry may include anonymised quotes, paragraphs or summaries from what you share with us.
- Your personal details will not be published, and we will make sure that no-one is able to identify you from any anonymised published information.
- You can change your mind about sharing your experience or your information at any time, including during a private session.
- At the end of the Inquiry, all information created by the Inquiry will be transferred to Archives New Zealand and become part of the public record. Information from private sessions will have restricted access. This means that there would be no public access to all information for 100 years.
Recommended involvement Procedurefor current and former Jehovah’s Witnesses
Given the appalling track record that Jehovah’s Witnesses have amassed of either ignoring or dealing inappropriately with sexual (and other) abuse within their ranks, we have provided a specially designed guide and form that can help survivors put together the most effectual report of your experience. This guide has been approved By the Royal Commission for the purposes of the Inquiry.
All persons wishing to share your information, regardless of the way you choose to construct your report, are obliged to register with the Royal Commission first, as a condition of your being allowed to participate. For victims and survivors who had a Jehovah’s Witness affiliation at the time of your abuse, the easy steps below will maximise the court’s understanding of the unique nature of your particular ordeal.
Please follow these 4 easy steps…
Step 1: Register
- Register by email: Email email@example.com the subject “Register” and the Royal Commission will email you back to explain how to start your registration
- Register by phone: 0800 222 727 – 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday (NZT) | 1800 875 745 – Calling from Australia
- They can call you: Email firstname.lastname@example.org and include your full name, phone number and a suitable time for them to call you (between 10am and 4pm weekdays)
An information pack will be provided after registration
Step 2: Familiarise yourself with…
Before preparing your report, we recommend that you familiarise yourself with:
- The information regarding participation procedures detailed on the Royal Commission’s website OR go to the Royal Commission section on this website.
- The Terms of Reference.
Step 3: Download the following Reporting Guide:
These reporting guidelines have been especially adapted to suit abuse survivors who are current or former Jehovah’s Witnesses.
These questions are supplied to be used simply as ‘memory jogs’ or prompts to help you prepare your report. They are not intended to be viewed as a formal questionnaire, so therefore, none of the questions are compulsory.
Some questions included on the form may not be applicable to your particular situation, so there is no necessity for you to try and cover any irrelevant questions in your report. However, they have been approved by the Royal Commission as useful and appropriate in many instances. (You may also write things down that you want the Commissioner to know but do not want to talk about at the hearings)
N.B. if you are reluctant to make a personal appearance but would like to have your report read out during the court proceedings, a spokesperson from JWs 4 Justice may be approved.
Step 4: What to do with your completed report:
- Retain copies for your own personal records and use.
- If you wish to represent yourself at the hearing and would like to read out your own report or use it as notes when uou are speaking, you have the option of sending your report information to the Commissioner to read before your session or you can bring it with you on the day.
- If you you do not wish to appear at the hearings in person but would still like to have circumstances of your experience known by the court, a person from JWs 4 Justice will be available and may be requested to speak on your behalf. The above points are also applicable however you will need to take the added step of making your request known to us directly, at email@example.com
Royal Commission Contact:
write to: Royal Commission of Inquiry – PO Box 10071 – The Terrace, Wellington 6143
call: 0800 222 727 – 10 am to 4pm, Mon – Fri (NZT)
1800 875 745 (If calling from Australia)
Assistance for preparing Jehovah’s Witnesses-related reports and info
call: 0800 784 738 (if unattended, please leave a message)