Brutal mistreatment of prisoners cannot be ignored

Green MP Keith Locke says threats by the Justice Minister to appeal compensation awarded to five prisoners for severe mistreatment send the message that prisoners have no human rights and ‘deserve’ whatever brutality they encounter in jail.

The High Court found that Paremoremo prison authorities had failed to treat the prisoners in a humane way, by incarcerating them in solitary confinement for periods ranging from six weeks to more than two years.

“Whatever heinous crimes they have committed, prisoners have the same human rights as everyone else,” said Mr Locke, the Green Party’s Human Rights spokesperson. “To simply confiscate compensation payments, as the Minister suggests, would only discourage legal challenges to wrongdoing in our prison system.”

Mr Locke said that the Green Party supported victims’ rights and was in favour of reparations being awarded at the time of sentencing.

“If a prisoner hasn’t paid those reparations then part of any income they gain, including from compensation payments such as these, should go towards it.

“However, we are departing from principles of justice if we deny compensation to people who have been subject to inhuman treatment, whether they are prisoners or free,” said Mr Locke. “To take away the right to compensation for mistreatment would give a green light to prison authorities to abuse other inmates.”