INDEPENDENT NEWS

Prisoner Advocates Back Report’s Call For Human Rights Inquiry

Published: Thu 10 Dec 2020 08:17 AM
Prisoner rights organisation People Against Prisons Aotearoa says that the Human Rights Commission's follow up report into seclusion and restraint shows a worsening pattern of long terms in solitary isolation and increased use of restraints. The report found that almost 1 in 10 seclusions, which meet UN standards of solitary confinement, were so long as to breach international human rights law. People Against Prisons Aotearoa is concerned that so little has been done since the initial report.
"Kelvin Davis has known how harmful solitary confinement is since before he became Minister of Corrections. Davis has overseen a tripling in how often prisoners are tied up and allowed abuse of prisoners with pepper spray to become a new norm," says People Against Prisons Aotearoa spokesperson Emilie Rākete. "Worse, all of these practices disproportionately affect Māori and Pacific prisoners more. Māori women are almost 80% of women prisoners placed in seclusion."
Doctor Sharon Shalev, author of the report, states that an urgent investigation into racist and gendered bias in how Corrections uses seclusion and restraint is necessary. People Against Prisons Aotearoa backs that call.
“Prisoners are reporting harming themselves because they miss their families and, instead of helping them make contact, prison administrators are placing them in 22+ hour solitary confinement cells. Prisoners are being placed in solitary confinement cells for talking about their mental health, for being the victims of violence or bullying, or in one case, simply for being overweight,” says Rākete. “The public has a right to know the extent to which Corrections is using seclusion and restraints in an unjust, harmful manner. We wholeheartedly back Doctor Shalev’s call for an independent inquiry and welcome Kelvin Davis’ cooperation.”

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