November 25, 2020
Corrections outs itself with court action
The director of Amnesty International New Zealand says she’s shocked not just by the treatment meted out to inmates at the privately-run Auckland Women’s Regional Corrections Facility but by the fact Corrections is comfortable with it.
Meg de Ronde says the human rights organisation has been trying all year to find out what was happening in the prison using Official Information Act requests and other avenues, but the details only emerged last week in a trial of three inmates charged with setting fires inside the prison.
The court heard of cells being sealed up while guards pumped in pepper spray to subdue an asthmatic prisoner, of months spent in the pound or isolation unit, and of inmates forced to humiliate themselves to receive food or sanitary products.
Ms de Ronde says Corrections did not seem to be keeping proper records about what was happening.
"They couldn’t tell us how long women were being locked in their cells without going back and looking at CCTV footage which is completely inappropriate because women are entitled under law to have time outside their cells so we have said this has to end, we have to have a full inquiry into what is going on in our prisons because it reflects on all of us, what’s happening in those facilities," she says.
Meg de Ronde says much of what was described in court could amount to torture.
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