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''Torture' report underscores NPIP protest claims

Fri 9 Dec 2016 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

A damning Ombudsman's report describing degrading and "deplorable" treatment of prisoners validates the complaints being made by the transgender activist group No Pride In Prisons, according to NPIP's spokespeople. The findings are contained in a report compiled by Crimes of Torture Act inspectors from the Ombudsman's Office who made unannounced visits to Arohata, Manawatu, Invercargill and Otago prisons. The report was released to the NZ Herald yesterday afternoon, against the initial wishes of Corrections, and is comprehensively written up here. Prolonged use of handcuffs, lack of privacy during intimate searches and ablutions, sexual assaults and other issues are highlighted in the report. "The Ombudsman's 'Torture' reports into the New Zealand prison system, and the abuses they have revealed, confirm information gathered by No Pride in Prisons advocates," say NPIP's Ti Lamusse and Emilie Rakete in a response provided to Daily News. "Many of the incarcerated people we have worked with have reported similar experiences to what the Ombudsman outlines." "We are particularly concerned that the treatment of a transgender woman prisoner, who is currently being held in isolation, is being experienced across by many other prisoners. The OCF report states that “Prisoners on directed segregation are being managed in punishment cells.” "People can be placed on directed segregation for a number of reasons, including for their 'safety'. The transgender woman we have been advocating for has been kept on directed segregation, against her will, for more than a month now. She has told us that she has been kept in a solitary confinement or 'punishment cell', and it is extremely troubling to see this is a system-wide practice. "Her visits are being held in isolation booths with no physical contact allowed, the same treatment given to prisoners who may pose a threat to the safety of their visitors. On occasions she has broken down crying during visits, saying ‘I just want a hug.’ Corrections maintains that she is not being punished, but now it is clear that her treatment is part of a broader issue. "That the kinds of abuses No Pride in Prisons advocates have been reporting for nearly two years are indeed systemic is an indictment on the prison system in this country."    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Friday, 9th December 2016 - 12:07am

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