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Govt commits to ind't prison complaints authority

1 June 2005

Govt commits to independent prison complaints authority

The Government has written to the Green Party today committing to the establishment of an independent prison complaints authority, Greens' Justice Spokesman Nandor Tanczos says. The written commitment, from the Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen, was in relation to the Green Party's support for the Prisoners' and Victims' Claims Bill.

The letter commits the Government to establishing an independent prisons complaints authority by the end of 2006, introducing a sunset clause to the main provisions of the Bill and establishing an inquiry into the support available to victims of serious crime and the place of victims in the criminal justice system, Nandor says.

"We signed off the agreement today and are pleased with this advance for victims' rights and for protecting the integrity of the corrections system" he says.

"I'm particularly happy to be advancing the rights of victims. It was obvious in the Select Committee that more work is needed on victims' rights. This is a cast iron agreement to do that work."

The Greens say they are keen to explore the setting up of a victims' compensation scheme along the lines of Australia's.

"Contrary to the views of some MPs, victims' rights are not about making the system more punitive. They are about making victims more central to the process and ensuring that their needs are met in a material and an emotional sense".

Prisoners' compensation is not just about complying with our international agreements, although that is important, but about protecting the integrity of the corrections system. The Greens are therefore pleased both with the sunset clause on the Bill and the commitment to an independent inspectorate.

"We believe that in the circumstances this outcome provides a good balance between the rights of victims and protecting against abuse within the prison system," Nandor says.

ENDS

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