OPCAT Annual Report 2014/2015

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During their monitoring activities in the reporting period NPMs have not identified any incidents of torture. However, as in previous years, NPMs have observed certain circumstances and systemic shortcomings that potentially can and occasionally do subject detained persons to practices that according to international standards can be considered tantamount to ill-treatment.

NPMs continue to identify gaps and put forward recommendations to implement progressive improvements in New Zealand’s detention facilities. This work is informed by cross-sector dialogue with detaining agencies, civil society and international partners.

The United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT) visited New Zealand in April 2013 and the Government published the SPT’s findings in 2014. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and United Nations Treaty Bodies such as the Committee against Torture and the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, also continue to provide invaluable guidance on improving the conditions of some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable population groups. These international monitoring bodies have confirmed the National Preventive Mechanism’s observation that managing people with high and complex mental health and addiction needs is a key area of concern in New Zealand’s detention context.

A disproportionate number of people with high and complex needs continue to be subjected to Detention practices that can amount to ill-treatment. The National Preventive Mechanism has therefore decided to focus the second part of its 2014/15 annual report on mental health in detention and the implications of inadequate or unsuitable management of people with high and complex needs for those detained. Although some of these issues cannot be addressed in the short term, an ongoing and more strategic cross-sector approach is needed along with joined-up service delivery to progressively improve conditions and prevent ill-treatment.

This thematic focus will continue to guide the National Preventive Mechanism’s public reporting in the future. A number of priority areas require focussed attention and resources to bring about substantive change. Action is required to ensure that all detainees are afforded basic protections to keep them safe and to provide them with the best possible opportunities once they leave the detention setting.

It is in the interests of all members of our community that this occurs.

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