24 Nov 2020

Corrections may have broken law at women's prison - lawyer

From Checkpoint, 5:12 pm on 24 November 2020

A human rights lawyer says Corrections appears to have broken the law by keeping two women in a segregation unit at Auckland Women's Prison for four months in conditions likened to those of caged animals.

Prisoners usually stay two weeks in the unit, known as the pound, and the law sets out rules that need to be followed to keep them in longer - rules that the second in command at the prison has admitted she did not even know existed.

On Tuesday morning RNZ revealed that women were gassed with pepper spray in their cells, made to lie face down on the ground before they were fed and had to plead for basic hygiene products.

Human Rights Lawyer Douglas Ewen says the conditions could meet the definition of torture and New Zealand may have an international obligation to report them.

Guyon Espiner broke this story and filed this report.