Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Unlawful detention

This is absolutely appalling: a woman was detained unlawfully in a secure dementia unit for over a year, without any legal authority, right here in New Zealand. The reason? Basically it seems to be slackness. The paperwork - an application for a court order - was prepared, but never filed, and nobody ever checked. Even when they discovered they had no legal authority for detention, it still took two months to release her.

The disability service providers in question - Taikura Trust and Oak Park rest home - will apparently be paying a large amount of compensation. But what's more important is making sure that it never happens again. Magna Carta is clear:

NO freeman shall be taken or imprisoned... but by lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land.
That applies to detention for health treatment as well as criminal punishment. Our health providers need to be aware of that, and ensure that they have proper authority for everyone in their care. And there needs to be stronger auditing by DHBs to ensure that those providers don't get it wrong. This sort of private, arbitrary detention is not something we can tolerate in a free and democratic society.