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Bill Threatens Rights of Intellectually Disabled

MEDIACOM-RELEASE-IHC

Bill Threatens Rights Of People With Intellectual Disabilities

People with intellectual disabilities could be locked up without having committed a crime, IHC National President Barbara Rocco, told the Health Select Committee today.

"Last week the SPCA was protesting that it wasn't fair to lock up dogs because they might bite someone. This week we are saying it isn't fair to detain people with intellectual disabilities because it is thought they might be dangerous." Mrs Rocco said.

IHC told the committee that it was concerned that the Intellectual Disability (Compulsory Care) Bill could lead to discrimination against a vulnerable group of people who have limited opportunities to defend themselves.

"The Bill is a flagrant breach of a number of human and civil rights laws," Mrs Rocco told the committee.

The legislation was introduced by the previous Government in response to difficulties in dealing with a very small group of people with an intellectual disability who may have committed a crime, but are unfit to plead or acquitted on the grounds of insanity. When the Bill was drafted IHC was surprised to find it included all people with an intellectual disability, including children, who might pose a danger.

Under the Bill a member of the public can report that a person with an intellectual disability is a danger to others. The person can then be detained for assessment and ordered into compulsory care under the recommendation of an assessor and the Family Court. They do not have to have committed a crime.

"There is no evidence to support the belief that people with an intellectual disability are any more dangerous than any other group. No other New Zealander can be detained because someone thinks they might commit a crime."

IHC agrees that there is a need for reform around offenders with an intellectual disability, including a need for more resources for people with complex needs.

"However, these issues can be addressed by amending existing legislation, rather than introducing a heavy handed and discriminatory law," Mrs Rocco said. "The decision to include children in the legislation is also questionable."

Ends

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