Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


UN Concerns Over Arbitrary Detention in New Zealand

UN expert group raises concern despite legal safeguards against arbitrary detention

AUCKLAND (7 April 2014) – The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention today expressed concern at specific areas of deprivation of liberty in New Zealand, and recommended several ways for improvement*.

At the end of their first official visit to the country, the human rights experts drew special attention to the wider use of preventive detention and the over-representation of Maori in the prison population, as well as loopholes in law and practices with regard to judicial proceedings involving persons with mental disabilities.

The independent experts noted that, overall, legislation and policy concerning deprivation of liberty in New Zealand is well-developed and generally consistent with international human rights law and standards, but urged the authorities to address their concerns.

“If a prisoner has fully served the sentence imposed at the time of conviction, equivalent detention cannot be imposed under the label of civil preventive detention,” said human rights expert Mads Andenas, who currently heads the Working Group. “The substantive grounds for detention must be defined with sufficient precision to avoid overly broad or arbitrary application.”

“The over-representation of Maori also poses a significant challenge,” Mr. Andenas stressed, noting that the Maori make up for more than 50 per cent of the prison population while they comprise some 15 per cent of the population of New Zealand.

The UN group urged the authorities to address the disproportionate negative impacts on Mâori of criminal justice legislation extending sentences or reducing probation or parole, while recommending a review of the degree of inconsistencies and systemic bias against Mâori at all the different levels of the criminal justice system.

“The authorities should continue searching for creative and integrated solutions to the root causes which lead to disproportionate incarceration rates of the Maori population in New Zealand,” he said.

During the visit, the Working Group paid particular attention to the situation of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants in an irregular situation. In 2012, the Government accepted 690 refugees from third countries for resettlement and makes efforts to facilitate their integration in the country.

The expert group noted that New Zealand is using the prison system and police stations to detain irregular migrants and asylum seekers, although the country does not have a mandatory detention policy for asylum-seekers, refugees or migrants in an irregular situation.

“Detention of asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants in an irregular situation should normally be avoided and be a measure of last resort,” said Roberto Garretón, the other member of the Working Group’s delegation visiting New Zealand.

“Alternatives to detention should always be given preference. “Humane and cost effective mechanisms such as community release programmes can be very successful,” he underscored.

Concerning the detention of persons with mental or intellectual disabilities, the experts pointed out that that the legislative framework is not effectively implemented to ensure that arbitrary deprivation of liberty does not occur.

“Compulsory treatment orders are largely clinical decisions and it is difficult to effectively challenge such orders,” Mr. Andenas said. “Persons undergoing compulsory assessments are often unrepresented in practice, as they do not have access to legal aid.”

The Working Group also noted that, despite the increasing phenomenon of older persons staying in residential care, there is very little protection available to ensure that they are not arbitrarily deprived of their liberty against their will.

Lastly, the expert group expressed concern that a notable gap remains in relation to the legislative protection available to children aged 17 years. They are considered as adults for penal responsibility effects, tried as adults and, if condemned, are sent to adult prisons.

“Despite recommendations by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the UN Committee Against Torture to extend the protection measures under the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989 (CYPF Act) to include 17- year-olds, this has not occurred,” Mr. Garretón pointed out. “We urged New Zealand to fully comply with the requirements of the Convention of the Rights of the Child and to withdraw its reservations.”

During the 15-day mission, the experts visited the cities of Auckland, Christchurch, New Plymouth and Wellington, where they engaged with representatives of the authorities and civil society. They also visited detention facilities, including prisons, police stations and mental health institutions, to meet in private with detainees, their families or representatives, and gathered first-hand information on their cases of deprivation of liberty.

The final report of the visit will be presented to the Human Rights Council in September 2015.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Patience: Drive Safe

Be patient before passing is the AA's message for drivers this Labour weekend.

"People taking crazy risks to get past other vehicles is one of the most dangerous things on the road,” says AA spokesperson Dylan Thomsen.

“The weather is looking good for the long weekend so the roads will be busy. Unfortunately, that also increases the chances of people getting frustrated and trying a risky passing manoeuvre. When they get past, there will probably be more traffic up ahead anyway so it won’t get people there faster.” More>>

 
 

Parliament Today:

Employment Relations Bill: Govt Strains To Get Tea Break Law Through

The Government has been left with egg on its face - failing to get its much-vaunted, but hugely unpopular, meal break law passed in the first week of its new term, Labour spokesperson on Labour Issues Andrew Little says. More>>

ALSO:

Guns: Police Association Call To Arm Police Full Time

"The new minister gave his view, that Police do not need to be armed, while standing on the forecourt of parliament. The dark irony was that the interview followed immediately after breaking news of a gunman running amok in the Canadian parliament in Ottawa..." More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Tokenism Of New Zealand's Role Against Islamic State

Our contribution against IS will be to send SAS forces to train the Iraqis? That’s like offering trainers to General Custer just as the 7th cavalry reached the Little Big Horn. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Shell And Todd Caught Drilling Without Approval

Multi-national oil company Shell’s New Zealand arm and local energy giant Todd Energy have breached the new law governing New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the Environmental Protection Authority says in an Oct. 10 document released by the Green Party. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Pharmac, Gough Whitlam And Sleater-Kinney

We’re not at the outset of these negotiations. The outset was six years ago, and negotiators were hoping to have some sort of ‘framework’ deal finished in time for the APEC meeting in a few weeks’ time. These ‘extreme’ positions are what we’ve reached near the intended end of the negotiations… More>>

ALSO:

PM Of Many Hats: Questions, No Answers On Whale Oil

Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader – Green) to the Prime Minister: How many times since November 2008 has he spoken with blogger Cameron Slater on the phone and how many times, if any, has he texted him?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): None in my capacity as Prime Minister. More>>

ALSO:

Aussie Investigation Dropped: Call On Minister McCully To Pursue The Case Of Balibo Five

West Papua Action is deeply concerned at the lack of any clear outcome from the Australian Federal Police inquiry into the 1975 deaths of the ‘Balibo Five’ including NZ journalist Gary Cunningham. More>>

ALSO:

'Feed The Kids' Bill: Metiria Turei To Lead Fight On Feeding Hungry Children

Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei is urging all political parties to support the Feed the Kids Bill which she inherited today from Mana leader Hone Harawira. More>>

ALSO:

Parliament Today: State Opening Of Parliament

The House sat at 10.30am on Tuesday before MPs were summoned to hear the Speech from the Throne in the Legislative Council Chamber. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news