Christchurch judge slams Government over ‘breach of UN Convention’

by Sol Dolor02 Dec 2016
A Christchurch judge has blasted the New Zealand Government for what he deems is a breach of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“The situation is extraordinarily unsatisfactory,” Judge Robert Murfitt said this week, according to a report from Christchurch Court News.
The boy has spent a sixth day in solitary confinement in Christchurch because there was nowhere else he could be remanded in custody. The judge noted that a wing at Christchurch's youth justice facility has been mothballed by the government.
“In Christchurch there is a facility at Te Puna Wai. There is an entire wing of that facility which is vacant and has been in effect mothballed by the Ministry,” said Murfitt.
The judge also spoke about the conditions the boy is currently in.
“He is held in solitary confinement. He has no company. He has no books. He has no paper. Apart from exercises he might do in the confined space of his cell he has no exercise activities. In my view, this situation is in breach of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child,” the judge said.
He stressed that because of the boy’s age, personality and background, he lacked self-discipline to abide by bail conditions which necessitates him being remanded in custody.
Judge Andrew Becroft, the nation’s Children's Commissioner, echoed judge Murfitt’s comments.
“Police cells are no place for a young person,” Bercroft told 1 NEWS. “It's effectively solitary confinement, it's poor sanitation facilities. No access to education. Poor visitation. We don't treat adults like this, and we shouldn't be treating children like this.”

Related stories:
Call for the establishment of a Māori Whānau Court
Law Society, PSA probe NZ courts’ staffing issues