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Commission Welcomes Passing of Anti-Torture Act

Human Rights Commission

23 November 2006

Commission Welcomes Passing of Anti-Torture Act

The Human Rights Commission today welcomed the passing of legislation which enables New Zealand to ratify the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Chief Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan said today that the Crimes of Torture Amendment Act is a crucial element in the international framework for human rights.

"Opening New Zealand up to greater international scrutiny and monitoring will give added impetus and greater priority to ensuring the safety of those in detention."

"The Commission is particularly pleased that the legislation extends the definition of places of detention beyond prisons to include private facilities. This means the Act covers those involuntarily detained elsewhere, such as children and young people, people detained under mental health legislation and older people, for example, with dementia."

The Commission congratulated the Government for its active support for the Protocol and for being the first country to sign it in 2003.

The Protocol establishes a system of international inspection visits by a sub-committee to places of detention where torture or ill treatment might be carried out. These inspections work in tandem with national mechanisms, creating a dual system of regular visits by complementary teams of international and national experts.

"The Act provides a comprehensive framework for torture prevention and also ensures that the role of New Zealand's existing monitoring bodies are strengthened."

ENDS

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