• Include churches in the Royal Commission of Inquiry into historical abuse
    People who have experienced abuse in churches and faith-based schools need the opportunity to be heard in this once-in-a-lifetime Inquiry. Faith-based institutions are known to have been involved in the abuse of children and young people, and some covered-up abuse or were complicit in the protection of abusers. Right now, there are 330 integrated schools, many of which are church schools, and all of which receive at least some state funding. Given the provision of state funding to these schools, and the requirement for the state to ensure appropriate standards of care, it would be negligent to exclude them from the scope for this inquiry. The Royal Commission is taking place against a background of national and international concern about abuse in New Zealand state care. The Terms of Reference confirm that New Zealand has international obligations to take all appropriate legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to protect individuals from abuse, including measures for the prevention, identification, reporting, referral, investigation and follow-up of incidents of abuse. Abuse of individuals in state care is inconsistent with applicable domestic and international human rights law standards and principles. Abuse - including that which took place in faith-based institutions - warrants prompt and impartial examination, both to understand, acknowledge and respond to the harm caused to individuals, families and communities. The enduring impacts of abuse take a significant toll on the mental health of survivors. For some of these people, seeing churches and associated organisations excluded from this Inquiry will create a sense of revictimisation due to being silenced by the state. Including these faith-based institutions is an opportunity for healing and will contribute to the truth, justice, and reconciliation that so many people need. References: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/101825746/man-who-claims-to-have-nearly-killed-a-priest-to-stop-a-sexual-assault-calls-for-state-abuse-inquiry-to-be-widened https://www.nzcatholic.org.nz/2018/02/02/nz-abuse-inquiry-likely-include-churches/ https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/353367/churches-push-for-inclusion-in-royal-commission-into-abuse
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    Created by Leo McIntyre
  • End Solitary Confinement in New Zealand Prisons
    At least 300 people are being held in solitary confinement in a New Zealand prison right now [1]. Solitary confinement is where you are held in a cell and denied meaningful human interaction for 22-24 hours per day [2]. New Zealand doesn’t have a specific unit called a ‘solitary confinement unit’, but solitary confinement is still widely present in the prisons [3]. Although it never calls it solitary, the Department of Corrections puts people in solitary confinement about 12,000 times per year for reasons that include punishment, ‘protection’ and because they are suicidal [4]. Solitary confinement can have serious long-lasting and detrimental effects on prisoners' mental and physical health. Physiological effects of solitary can include insomnia, migraines, heart and intestinal problems and the worsening of existing health conditions. It can also have severe psychological effects, including anxiety, depression, anger and psychotic rage, paranoia, psychosis, hallucinations, and increased suicidality [5]. Almost every year a person in a New Zealand prison takes their own life in a solitary confinement cell [6]. The United Nations has declared indefinite and prolonged use of solitary confinement to be inhumane and degrading [7]. In some cases the pain and suffering inflicted through solitary confinement can amount to torture [8]. Despite these findings, there is an epidemic of solitary confinement in New Zealand. According to information released to People Against Prisons Aotearoa, a person is sent to solitary confinement around every 43 minutes [9]. The international human rights observer Sharon Shalev recently found that the use of solitary in New Zealand prisons is four times higher than in England and Wales [10]. Further, the use of solitary confinement worsens the systemic racism of the prison system. Māori and Pacific peoples are more likely to be placed in solitary, making up 62% of people put in solitary [11]. For people who are put in solitary for reason of punishment, Māori and Pacific peoples are 80% of that population [12]. This means the pain and suffering experienced in solitary is also more likely to be felt by Māori and Pacific peoples, making it a racist policy. Solitary confinement must be brought to an end. It does not keep anyone safe. People who experience it are more likely to harm themselves and, when they get out of solitary, more likely to use violence against others [13]. Solitary can cause severe pain and suffering that stays with the person long after they’ve been released [14]. There is no good reason to use solitary confinement. Its use must be ended immediately. We call upon Parliament to ban all forms of solitary confinement in New Zealand. This includes, but is not limited to, solitary confinement for the good order of the prison, for the ‘protection’ of a prisoner, for reason of population management, for reason of punishment, or because a prisoner is ‘at risk’. References: 1 - Ti Lamusse, ‘It’s time to end solitary confinement,’ (Speech, End Solitary Confinement Campaign Launch, Ellen Melville Hall, New Zealand, October 14, 2017). 2 - Sharon Shalev, ‘A Sourcebook on Solitary Confinement’ (London: Mannheim Centre for Criminology, 2008). http://solitaryconfinement.org/uploads/sourcebook_web.pdf 3 - As found in Sharon Shalev, ‘Thinking outside the Box? A review of seclusion and restraint practices in New Zealand’ (Wellington: Human Rights Commission, 2017). http://solitaryconfinement.org/uploads/Thinking_Outside_The_Box_PRINT.pdf 4 - Lamusse, ‘It’s time to end solitary confinement.’ 5 - Sharon Shalev, ‘A Sourcebook on Solitary Confinement’ (London: Mannheim Centre for Criminology, 2008). 6 - Ti Lamusse, ‘Grieving Prison Death’ (Master of Arts Thesis, University of Auckland, 2017). 7 - Juan Mendez, ‘Interim Report of the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment’ (Geneva: United Nations, 2011). 8 - Ibid. 9 - Lamusse, ‘It’s time to end solitary confinement’. 10 - Shalev, ‘Thinking outside the Box?’. 11 - Ibid. 12 - Ibid. 13 - Shalev, ‘A Sourcebook on Solitary Confinement’. 14 - Ibid.
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    Created by People Against Prisons Aotearoa Picture
  • We demand a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the NZ Family Courts
    *All signed letters will be delivered to Parliament this week, so please share to your social media to help spread the word!* In 2016, over 60,000 cases went through the Family Courts, and of those, over 6,800 children were involved in cases initiated under the Domestic Violence Act.[2] After separating from abusive partners, we expect that the Family Court should provide survivors of violence against women with protection and safety, for them and their children. The experiences of our community however, reveal that this is very rarely the case, and instead the Family Court is unjustly removing children from their protective mothers, and handing them over or even forcing them back into the abusive environments that they were removed from. In May this year, the Backbone Collective undertook a survey of almost 500 women who had been involved in the Family Court system post-separation. The survey report found that their experiences of violence and abuse were not believed, were minimized, their evidence was struck out, they were blamed for the violence and abuse, silenced, or their experiences were never responded to.[3] We believe these findings are but a micro-reflection of a rising voice of thousands who are currently suffering in fear, traumatised by longterm abuse that has been sanctioned by the Family Court. For many years, complaints have been made appealing Family Court decisions and telling those in authority of the harm that the Family Court is doing. They have not listened or taken action to change what is happening. However in time, history will reveal the blood on the hands of all those who participated in these harmful Family Court practices, or who stood by passively while our children suffered this state sanctioned abuse. Not only is it your professional duty to expose and address the systemic failings of the Family Court, it is your moral and ethical duty to provide a voice to victims and to ensure a robust framework moving forward by which to protect our children of Aotearoa. We are unified in our view that the harm being done by the Family Court is the result of the interpretation, implementation of the current laws. These problems will not be fixed by legislative changes, but only by an Inquiry into the entire Family Court system. There is enough evidence before you to call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Family Court immediately. As a community, we are distressed, grieving and fearful for the safety and lives of our loved ones who have been and are being abused by the current system. We anticipate many further social issues will result as a direct consequence of the harmful operation of the current Family Court System and urge you to take action immediately in order to prevent further abuse, crime, and tragedy in the lives of our children! 1 - Backbone Collective is a national coalition of survivors of Violence Against Women in Aotearoa New Zealand - https://www.backbone.org.nz 2 - NZ Family Violence Clearinghouse Data June 2017 - https://nzfvc.org.nz/sites/nzfvc.org.nz/files/DS3-Children-and-Youth-2017.pdf 3 - Backbone Collective 2017 reports can be viewed at https://www.backbone.org.nz/latest-activity/ 4 - Image is by Bev Short. The women in black veils represent all those women who have experienced violence and abuse but who are afraid to show their faces for fear of being punished by the Family Court for speaking out about how the system is failing to keep them and their children safe. The black veils also represent the hundred or more women who are murdered by their (ex) partners every 10 years in New Zealand. Many of the women who came together to participate in this photograph have their own story to tell; some are survivors, others are friends or family off survivors and some work on the front line with victims. Two of the women participated in memory of their loved ones who had been murdered – in one instance an Auntie and in the other a daughter – both of whom had been brutally murdered by their partners.
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    Created by Community In Action
  • Get Serco out of New Zealand prisons
    Privately owned, profit-driven prisons like Serco's are not only expensive and inefficient, they’re leaving us all worse off. They are designed primarily to make money, not to rehabilitate offenders. This can mean inmates leave prison more likely to re-offend, meaning more crime and more prisoners in the long run. Only 18 months old, the only Serco run prison had already recorded some of the worst levels of assaults, positive drug tests and justified complaints by inmates. It's time to drop the profit-driven New Zealand prison experiment for good.
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    Created by Eliot Pryor Picture
  • Raise the Youth Justice age to 21
    Update: In December 2016, the Government announced that they would raise the age of access to the Youth Justice system to 18 years, this means that most 17 year olds in New Zealand who are charged with a crime in New Zealand will be able to access a justice system designed specifically for young people. This is a great progress towards our goal! Thank you for your support so far, and we hope you'll continue to support this campaign to reach our ultimate goal of all young people in New Zealand being dealt with in our specialist youth courts. Our Youth Justice system is praised around the world. Every year scholars and practitioners come to New Zealand to watch us in action. But as soon as a child turns 17, they're processed through the adult criminal justice system where 91% of under 20s are reconvicted within 2 years after release. Young people need support to help them learn from their mistakes while still holding them accountable to their victims and communities. The adult justice system blindly punishes with no solutions for stopping future harm. Our youth justice system, currently available to 14-16 year olds gets young people on the right track while giving victims a say in the process. We need to raise the age of the youth justice system to 21. You can find out more here: http://justspeak.org.nz/including-17-year-olds-youth-justice-system-facts/
    3,747 of 4,000 Signatures
    Created by Katie Bruce
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