UN expresses concern about Tasers in NZ

NZ HERALD 11:08AM Thursday May 21, 2009

The United Nations Committee Against Torture says it is “deeply concerned” about New Zealand police adopting the Taser stun gun, as it releases a growing list of worries about this country’s justice system…

Human rights lawyer Tony Ellis said the UN committee’s 2004 report contained eight recommendations, but the latest contained 18.
There were clear defects and given the large number of recommendations the Government needed to give serious consideration to address those, he said.

Among the other concerns of the committee were:

  • a disproportionately high number of Maori and Pacific Islanders in prison, and in particular the number of women represented by those groups — 60 per cent of the female prison population.
  • Asylum seekers could be deported without detailed reason or revealing classified information.
  • The low age of criminal responsibility.
  • Juvenile offenders were not systematically separated from adult offenders.
  • Insufficient numbers of prisons to cope with forecast growth, and also inadequate mental health facilities.
  • Allegations of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment against children and patients in psychiatric hospitals were not being investigated and perpetrators not prosecuted.
  • New Zealand’s Bill of Rights had no higher status than ordinary domestic legislation.