Friday, October 24, 2003

More support for Zaoui

The United Nations Association of New Zealand has marked World UN Day by calling on the government to either give Ahmed Zaoui a fair trial or release him.

This whole affair is an embarassment for the government, and an embarassment for all New Zealanders. How can we hold our head high and claim to uphold human rights when we practice arbitrary imprisonment without trial?

And on a related note, a group of prisoners at Paremoremo are challenging the prison's "behaviour management regime", on the basis that it equates to psychological torture. The regime involves prolonged periods of solitary confinement, little exercise, 24-hour lighting, denial of watches and calenders - in short, the same sort of techniques used in an American "supermax" prison. The prisoners laying the complaint may be bad people (they include some of the country's worst murderers and rapists), but even they deserve to be treated both humanely and lawfully. The deliberate attempt to deprive them of any sense of time is inhumane (in fact, it's a standard torture technique), and the fact that prisoners are kept in solitary for longer than 15 days is both inhumane and unlawful. The Corrections department deserves a serious squicking for this...