1,000 signatures reached
To: Christopher Luxon, Chris Hipkins, David Seymour, Winston Peters, Marama Davidson, James Shaw, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, Rawiri Waititi,
Open Letter: Dear Leaders, don't criminalise our children. Stop the Ram Raid Bill!
Tēnā koutou Political Party Leaders,
We are writing to you because we are concerned about the Ram Raid Offending and Related Measures Amendment Bill which is currently proceeding before parliament.
We represent a collective of organisations who are committed to serving, caring for and advocating for children and young people.
Like the vast majority of New Zealanders, we want a more just, more inclusive Aotearoa.
We want a society where our children and young people are cared for, loved, and provided with their basic needs. We want people within our communities to feel that they belong, to feel connected, to feel that their voices are heard and that they matter.
When people cause harm in our community, we want a justice system which honours the voices of those who have been harmed, and provides healing, restoration, and reconciliation, both for those who have been harmed, and for those who have caused harm.
As a collective of organisations filled with people who have dedicated their lives to advocating for the rights of children and young people, we have been saddened and frustrated to watch as political expediency has overridden care and consideration for our children. Instead of laying out the evidence, educating the public on the root causes that can impact on a child becoming involved in crime, and outlining evidence-based solutions, political leaders on all sides of the aisle have contributed to building a “tough on crime” narrative which has created an environment of fear in our communities and obscured real solutions that will keep our communities safe.
The result of such rhetoric is clear within the Ram Raid Bill. This Bill violates the human rights of children, it is out of step with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and it fails to address the root causes that contribute to children causing harm in our communities.
As you will be aware, the evidence consistently shows that young people and children who cause harm in our community are some of our most structurally marginalized and vulnerable.
These are children who have themselves first been harmed, who have experienced trauma, suffered abuse, been living in poverty, experiencing homelessness, housing insecurity, mental illness, addiction, are struggling with undiagnosed disabilities, and whose whānau are dealing with the impact of social exclusion and generational trauma.
We are calling for you, as leaders, to lead. Withdraw your support from this bill and instead back evidence-based solutions that will serve our communities.
We also urge you to commit to real, sustainable reform by following the advice of Te Uepū Hāpai i Te Ora, the Safe and Effective Justice Advisory Group, in order to ensure that justice reform is depoliticized through the development of a cross-party parliamentary accord for transformative justice.
The wellbeing of our communities and the human rights of our children are too important to be continually used as political footballs each and every election cycle.
We deserve a justice system that is backed by evidence, upholds the human rights of all our tamariki and our whānau, and contributes to building a more just and more inclusive Aotearoa.
We appreciate you taking the time to read our letter and we look forward to meeting with each of you as a rōpū in the near future.
Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand
Ara Taiohi, peak body for youth development in Aotearoa
Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW)
Canterbury Howard League for Penal Reform.
Dr. Enys Delmage, Consultant in Adolescent Forensic Psychiatry
Dr. Luke Fitzmaurice-Brown
Family for Every Child
Korowai Tupu, professional association for Youth Work in Aotearoa
Pillars Ka Pou Whakahou
People Against Prisons Aotearoa
Save the Children
Wellington Howard League
Why is this important?
The Ram Raid bill is currently before select committee. It was introduced with the aim of reducing the impact of ram raids. The measures proposed will not achieve this aim. They are not supported by evidence, they include breaches of human rights and the UN rights of the child, and they are out of step with our international counterparts. The impact on children who commit these offenses will be immense, criminalising 12 and 13 year olds who are in desperate need of love, comprehensive support and guidance; potentially sending them further down a destructive pathway; and without delivering the intended benefits or preventing harm in our communities.
How it will be delivered
Open letter will be delivered to each political leader in person. More details to come.