Press Release from Olive McRae and New Zealander’s Against Prison Privatisation.
We are outraged and concerned about the proposed changes to the Coroners Act. Currently an inquest is mandatory for deaths in official custody or care. Changing that to sole discretion of the coroner is an egregious watering down of the state’s Duty of Care and a backwards step in New Zealand adhering to International Human rights standards. In the past it has often been the case that during a coronial inquest, corners have found that a death in custody was the result of negligence and incompetence and that the death was avoidable. Where will families go now to seek justice for deaths in custody? What will happen to families where deaths in custody are a result of systemic failure? Who will be held accountable? Justice minister Amy Adams is foolhardy to assert that these changes will save time and resources. What price do we put on the life of human beings? What price do we pay as a society if there is no strong oversight of the institutions and individuals that disregard their Duty of care? Susan Barribll whose brother died in 2010 in Otago Corrections facility says “The Inquest into my brother’s death was important because as family were able to ask questions and seek accountability. The Coroner found sub optimal care.
If this new legislation is passed and Coroners decide which death goes ahead to Inquest, it will leave a huge gap and no accountability to those with Duty of care to our most vulnerable citizens. Not only prisoners but Mental Health patients and Children/Youth in Custody of the State”.
For further comments please contact:
New Zealanders Against Prison Privatisation
New Zealanders against Prison Privatisation is a diverse coalition of people opposed to the expansion of the prison industrial complex. We advocate for the Human rights of prisoners and their families in New Zealand.
Death in custody
‘Death in Custody’ is a support group set up to support/advocate for families who have experienced a death in custody. Help with seeking accountability through the process of Inquest, Police, Health and Disability Commission, Nurses Council to name but a few. It can be a daunting process, especially while grieving, we are there to listen and support.