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Corrections Minister’s Comments Emerge Supporting Prisoner Uprising

Comments made in 2015 by Minister of Corrections Kelvin Davis have emerged in which the MP supports detained New Zealanders who had seized control of Australia’s Christmas Island prison camp, saying their concerns were legitimate. Speaking to Radio New Zealand, the then-opposition MP said that "I think it's a sign that the detainees have had enough of their human rights being abused and the Australian government needs to sit up and take notice."

Speaking about the destruction of the Australian prison camp by detainees, Davis said that "It's just to be expected when you push people beyond their limits. They've endured enough emotionally, they're reacting now, and the Australian government should have seen this coming because of the abuses that have gone on."

The comments have emerged just days after Davis accused the prisoner advocacy group People Against Prisons Aotearoa of trying to incite prison riots with a recent newsletter. The newsletter, which Davis would not provide to media, was later found to solely concern non-violent collective action like petitions and letter-writing. Prisoner advocacy group People Against Prisons Aotearoa say the flip-flop shows Davis is inconsistent and hypocritical.

“In 2015 Kelvin recognised that deportees in Australia’s camps had legitimate grievances, but today he is minimising the torture of prisoner like Mihi Bassett which he has overseen,” said People Against Prisons Aotearoa’s spokesperson Emilie Rākete.

“Six years ago Kelvin offered his support to New Zealanders who rose up against degradation and abuse in prison, and today he is the perpetrator of it. Under Kelvin’s watch, prisoners like Mihi Bassett have been gassed in their cells and forced to beg for food, but he refuses to end the practice.”

“Kelvin is a hypocrite who has betrayed the Māori communities that gave him his seat in the House. Kelvin allows guards to lock prisoners in their cells and blast them with pepper spray, an abuse as serious as the ones that triggered the Christmas Uprising which Kelvin supported. Now that Kelvin is in power he accuses anyone opposed to torture in prisons of trying to incite violence. Kelvin is the one perpetrating violence.”

The interview in which Davis makes his comments is available on Radio New Zealand’s website, at

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