“The 16 of Waikeria will tell their stories of the inhumane treatment to the High Court and the Waitangi Tribunal,” said Rawiri Waititi, Co-Leader of Te Paati Māori.
This comes as the 16-prisoners involved in the Waikeria protest, have each filed a claim in the High Court in Wellington against the Attorney-General and the Chief Executive of Corrections for breaches of their civil rights, the Treaty of Waitangi, the Corrections Act 2004, and the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules) 2015. Fourteen of these prisoners who are Māori have also filed claims against the Crown in the Waitangi Tribunal.
“The facts will show that the prisoners have been treated inhumanely and with extreme cruelty by Corrections’ staff. For months, the men had been denied the right to complain about their conditions because staff would not give them the standard PCO1 complaint forms” said Waititi.
“Their water was brown and didn’t meet New Zealand’s minimum drinking water standards, the building was full of asbestos and we understand it had been condemned.”
“When the men asked for clean sheets and towels, they were ignored. Some went for six months without being provided with clean bedding.”
“The men were required to wash their clothing under the one shower in the yard that they shared with 20 others.”
“Some had been subjected to serious violence, and all have been subjected daily to degrading and racist treatment,” said the MP for Waiariki.
“A nation is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable. Our prisoners are one of our most vulnerable communities. It’s time that Aotearoa faces up to the fact that our human rights record is shocking, particularly when it comes to dealing with Māori.”
“This is why Te Paati Māori is supporting these men in their efforts to ask the High Court and the Waitangi Tribunal to look into prison conditions. Their brave efforts in taking this litigation will benefit all New Zealanders, Māori and non-Māori” said Waititi.
“Both the Human Rights Commissioner and the Ombudsman have in the past issued scathing reports about Corrections’ violations of the law, yet nothing has been done.”
“Most of the men who were involved in the protest are currently being held in 23-hour solitary confinement. The United Nations Mandela Rules prohibit solitary confinement for more than 15 days. These men have been held like this for three months now.”
“We are no longer living in the dark ages. We should now understand that violence and bullying will only begat more violence and bullying. This treatment is disgusting and is the reason and purpose of the United Nations Convention against Torture.”
“The time for change is now and Te Paati Māori is urging Aotearoa to get involved in the war against inhumanity that has seen New Zealand sink to new depths in its disgraceful statistics in areas of youth suicide, mental health, domestic violence, and Māori imprisonment,” Waititi concluded.
Keanu Flavell, +64 211 692 435, [email protected]
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