Over the past few months I've been using the Official Information Act to do some digging into the Department of Corrections' abusive Behaviour Management Regime (BMR). I've just received back their response to my latest request. In it, I focused on how the BMR was developed - who was responsible, what their position with the prison was etc. I also asked for copies of any document which raised concerns about compliance with any of the following:
- Penal Institutions Act 1954
- New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990
- Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
- United Nations Standard Minimum Rules For The Treatment of Prisoners
- Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under any Form of Detention or Imprisonment
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
- Any other New Zealand legislation or international agreement to which New Zealand is a party.
(These are simply the most obvious laws and agreements governing the operation of prisons, and formed the basis of the complaints in Taunoa v Attorney General, in which the BMR was found to violate both the Penal Institutions Act and the NZ BORA).
Corrections' response was short and to the point:
We have not located any documents which meet this criteria
Which should give pause for thought regardless of how it is read. Either the question of compliance with the legal framework governing our prisons was not even considered, or (given the blatant nature of the breach of the Penal Institutions Act) Corrections has some utterly crap lawyers. Either answer suggests gross negligence on the Department's behalf, and given the amount of money this has cost us so far, is reason enough for heads to roll.