30 Mar 2014

Inmate complains to UN official

6:18 am on 30 March 2014

Career criminal Arthur Taylor has told a United Nations official that New Zealand prisons are regularly breaching inmates rights.

Taylor, who has more than 150 convictions, has won an apology from the Corrections Department over his complaint regarding inmates being denied exercise at Auckland Prison.

He had complained to a department inspector that maximum security inmates at Auckland Prison were denied their one hour of open-air exercise on Fridays, in breach of the Corrections Act. After initially claiming the lockdown was not unlawful, the inspector sent Taylor a letter of apology.

On Friday, Taylor met Mads Andenaes of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

In an email to Radio New Zealand, Taylor said he told Mr Andenaes that New Zealand's laws protecting the rights of people in detention were regularly ignored by the authorities, often after political pressure. He urged the United Nations to press New Zealand to introduce an independent inspector of prisons.

The self-styled prison lawyer has taken several successful claims against Corrections, including a High Court appeal against the prison smoking ban. He is currently fighting to get prisoners the right to vote.

Green Party Corrections spokesperson David Clendon said it was unacceptable that prison management had been allowed to break the law and the department's apology showed the need for an independent inspectorate to deal with complaints.