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New Zealand: Many care residences not monitored for ill-treatment

Graphic: New Zealand Human Rights Commission

The Commission has commenced a research project to review and examine less traditional places of detention, such as locked aged-care facilities.


Chief Commissioner of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission, David Rutherford, says that while most places of detention in the country are monitored for ill-treatment, there are many, such as locked aged-care facilities and community-based homes for disabled persons, which are not.

Thousands of New Zealanders in detention or in other places where they do not have freedom of movement are vulnerable to human rights abuses.

"Preventive monitoring is used to ensure prisoners, and youth in youth facilities are treated with dignity and respect, but dementia units are not currently covered and I'd like them included," Mr Rutherford said.

There are an estimated 138 locked aged-care facilities where elderly are deprived of their liberty.

In addition, New Zealand has many community residences for people with disabilities, including mental health disabilities, which are not currently monitored for meeting human rights standards.

Broadening the scope of New Zealand's current monitoring mandate under the United Nations Convention against Torture would help to prevent and identify ill-treatment and abuse in more places.

"Because abuse is usually carried out behinds closed doors, it is vital that we do our best to protect those with disabilities from abuse at the hands of their carer," Mr Rutherford said.

It is very concerning that many community homes for people with a mental health disability are not being properly monitored, he added.

To address this issue, the Commission has commenced a research project to review and examine these less traditional places of detention. This work is partly funded by the European Union through the Asia Pacific Forum's Torture Prevention Ambassador Project.

Michael White, the Commission's Senior Legal and Policy Analyst, is New Zealand's Torture Prevention Ambassador.

Date: 22 December 2014

Source: New Zealand Human Rights Commission


Image credits

  1. New Zealand Human Rights Commission - Tom Hickmore, Flickr Creative Commons