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

Gordon Campbell: On The Budget

It may seem like Oliver to be so bold as to ask the Finance Minister for more gruel – but what the Dickens, Steven Joyce… is this Budget really as good as it gets?

Supposedly, the public was going to receive significant rewards – an election year lolly scramble no less – for the eight years of belt tightening that they’ve endured, and for the rundown of essential public services.

Well, what Budget 2017 delivered instead in Education and in Health were allocations barely sufficient to maintain the current levels of service delivery More>>

Scoop Full Coverage: of Budget Announcements & Reaction
Latest: Scoop Search

 
 

Carer Settlement: Threat Of Staff Exodus In Mental Health

As a result of the recent pay rise awarded to their aged care and disability sector colleagues, many staff in non-government mental health and addiction organisations are considering leaving to join these workforces. More>>

ALSO:

Climate Policy: New Zealand Set To Blow Its Carbon Budget By 27%

The Government’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory shows New Zealand is set to release 647.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions between 2013 and 2020 – 137 million tonnes more than we are allowed under the Kyoto Protocol. More>>

ALSO:

Earlier:

Auditor-General Stands Down For Investigation: Gordon Campbell On (Not) Taking Responsibility

So Martin Matthews, our current Auditor-General wishes he could have detected “earlier” the fraud that occurred on his watch at the Ministry of Transport. Hmmm. But he could have detected it earlier, surely? That’s the point. More>>

ALSO:

NGOs Pleased: Govt To Halt Collection Of Client Data

Brenda Pilott, the chair of ComVoices and national manager of Social Service Providers Aotearoa, congratulates the government on its decision to call a halt to the collection of individual client data until the concerns of not-for-profit service providers have been worked through. More>>

ALSO:

Gosh: Blasphemy Law Repeal Struck Down

Chris Hipkins, the MP who tabled a Supplementary Order Paper to add our Blasphemy Law to the Statutes Repeal Bill, said this was a "sad day for freedom of speech, tolerance, and leadership". More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Navy’s Dealings With Fat Leonard, And Twin Peaks

At an official level, our “she’ll be right” attitude routinely spills over into a keen resentment of anyone who suggests the outcomes may be less than satisfactory… The Navy has now gone one step beyond. It won’t even ask itself whether it did a good job. More>>

ALSO:

NZDF: Fifth Rotation Of Troops Heads To Iraq

The fifth rotation of New Zealand Defence Force troops left today for a six-month mission training Iraqi soldiers. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 

Opening The Election Supporters

 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election