Inspection powers

Inspectors visit and gather information on the treatment and conditions of detained people.

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What can inspectors do?

Inspectors and other staff are authorised by the Ombudsman to assist them in carrying out inspections. We can enter premises and gather the information needed to examine and monitor the treatment and conditions of detained people. 

We can enter detention facilities regularly or at any time, including after hours and at weekends. Inspections may be announced or unannounced and we do not need to tell detention facilities before we arrive. We may gather any relevant information about the treatment and conditions of any detained person. 

It also means that we must be provided with:

  • unrestricted access to information about the number, treatment and conditions of detained people

  • any information, documents or anything else that, in the Ombudsman’s opinion, relates to the inspection, even where there may be a legal obligation of secrecy or non-disclosure

  • unrestricted access to any place of detention and anyone in that place of detention

  • the right to speak, without witnesses being present, to anyone who may be able to provide relevant information.

Relevant legislation

The places to be inspected by the Ombudsman are formally recorded in the New Zealand Gazette.

Designation of National Preventive Mechanisms – New Zealand Gazette

The Ombudsman’s inspection powers are set out in the:

The COTA gives effect to the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT), ratified by New Zealand in 2007.

Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture

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