Media Release: Political Accusations A Distraction From Systemic Failures

February 24, 2021

24 February 2021

Justice advocacy group JustSpeak is calling on Minister Davis to show leadership and focus on his commitments to meaningful change in Corrections policy, following his accusations against Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi and People Against Prisons Aotearoa yesterday. 

“Minister Davis needs to take responsibility for the systemic failures in Corrections facilities across Aotearoa and demonstrate his Government’s commitment to actually making change, rather than attempting to deflect attention from the human rights abuses happening on his watch” said JustSpeak Director Tania Sawicki Mead.

“Just yesterday, Judge McNaughton’s interim ruling made clear that women at Auckland Women’s Regional Prison were subjected to degrading and inhumane treatment, as well as excessive use of force. 

“This follows evidence from multiple Ombudsman reports that show unacceptable conditions at prisons across the country, including Waikeria, and a review by Corrections itself finding a punitive culture at Auckland Women’s with multiple breaches of the law and inadequate healthcare.

“Accusations against volunteer groups and politicians are a distraction from the Minister’s promises to make meaningful changes under Hōkai Rangi so that people in prison are treated with respect and humanity.

“In the Minister’s own words, the Hōkai Rangi strategy ‘is an admission that the status quo is no longer acceptable’ - we need to see the evidence that he is actually focused on changing the status quo, rather than defending it. 

“As a community we will all benefit when this Government finally makes good on it’s promises for transformational change that focuses on prevention over punishment and ending the devastating mass incarceration of Māori. 

“That is the best way the Minister can ensure the safety and wellbeing of people being held in prison as well as Corrections staff”, said Ms Sawicki Mead