Media Release: Minister of Corrections must take action and end injustice at Waikeria

January 2, 2021

Minister of Corrections must take action and end injustice at Waikeria 

 2 January 2021

JustSpeak is calling on the Minister of Corrections to de-escalate the current protest at Waikeria in a way that protects the safety, dignity, and human and legal rights of the men protesting, and to honour their requests for humane treatment.
“The men currently protesting at Waikeria are shining a light on the inhumane conditions in this prison and demanding basic human rights for those in Waikeria - clean drinking water, hygienic eating facilities, and the bare minimum of sanitation including toilet paper and clean clothes”  said JustSpeak Director Tania Sawicki Mead.
“These are the same abject conditions that the Chief Ombudsman detailed in his report five months ago following an unannounced inspection of the facility. The Ombudsman’s report includes descriptions of unsanitary eating conditions, lack of access to clean bedding and clothing, cramped conditions, difficulty accessing complaints processes, and little availability of cultural services and support.
“This damning report and the current protest speaks to Corrections’ failure to implement their own commitments under the Hōkai Rangi strategy set out in 2019, including in particular the commitment to ‘humanising and healing’, and shared decision making with Māori.
“It echoes wider, systemic issues across the entire prison system, including the fundamental breaches of human rights at Auckland Women’s Prison, where women have been forced to beg for food, denied sanitary products, and repeatedly blasted with pepper spray in their cells. 
“The current situation unfolding at Waikeria is an opportunity for the Department and the Minister of Corrections to demonstrate their commitment to the values underpinning Hōkai Rangi, and to charting a new course towards a justice system that resolves harm and treats all people with respect. 
“Protestors at Waikeria are asking for an end to inhumane treatment and the provision of basic needs like clean and adequate clothing, food and water - something that all of us, no matter who we are, all deserve. This situation must be resolved with care and respect for protestors and a commitment to addressing the fundamental injustice at the core of this situation.