- Key Focus Areas
- Enquiries & Complaints
- Human Rights
- The Treaty
- Race Relations
- Disabled People
- International & UN
- Office of Human Rights Proceedings
- What can I complain about?
- Resolving Discrimination and Harassment guide
- Areas of public life
- Government or Public Sector Activities
- Access by the public to places, vehicles and facilities
- Industrial and professional associations, qualifying bodies and vocational training bodies
- Provision of goods and services
- Provision of land, housing and other accommodation
- Discriminatory Laws
- Accommodating disability and religious beliefs
- Accommodation, property, landlords and human rights
- ACC and age discrimination
- Bullying, harassment and/or violence at school
- Caring for disabled adult family members
- Clubs and the Human Rights Act
- English language only in the workplace
- Funeral arrangements
- Human Rights and Redundancy
- Job application questions
- Maori Party and the Human Rights Act
- Moko: your rights
- New Zealands official languages
- Positive actions to achieve equality
- Prisoners’ rights
- Racially offensive comments
- Reviewing decisions
- The School Ball
- Smoking and human rights
- Wearing cultural, religious or national items
- What do I do?
- What happens?
- Further links
Enquiries & Complaints Guide
What rights do I have if I am in prison?
While prisoners no longer enjoy freedom of movement, they retain the majority of their human rights and can complain if they believe these rights have been breached.
In particular prisoners have the right to be treated with humanity, dignity and respect while in detention. For this reason there are a number of human rights standards in place to ensure people in detention are safe.
If I have a complaint about my treatment in prison what can I do?
There are a number of organisations which handle complaints dealing with the human rights of people who are arrested, imprisoned, or otherwise involved in the criminal justice system.
The Commission can help in two ways:
- help sort a problem directly, particularly if your complaint is linked to one of the grounds in the Human Rights Act such as race or disability
- provide information about organisations which have specific responsibilities for complaints about prisons.
Initial steps for you to take yourself: Use the internal prison complaints avenues provided by the prison you are in and/or the Inspector of Corrections. For more information about this: see the Department of Corrections information sheet on making a complaint.
Contact the Inspector of Corrections at Private Box 1206, Wellington or on free phone 0800 225 697.
If internal complaints processes do not resolve your complaint, you should contact the Office of the Ombudsmen, which can investigate complaints about all government agencies including prisons. Phone the office on the prison complaints free phone at 0800 662 837 or the complaints free phone at 0800 802 602.
These organisations deal with other issues that might arise:
- If your complaint relates to a privacy issue you should contact the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. For more in at PO Box 466, Auckland or free phone 0800 803 809 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about the Office of the Privacy Commissioner is available at www.privacy.org.nz.
- If your complaint concerns police conduct you should contact the Independent Police Conduct Authority on free phone 0800 503 728 or at email@example.com. More information about the authority is available at www.ipca.govt.nz.
- If your complaint is about court staff you should contact the Ministry of Justice, which is responsible for Courts, at PO Box 180, Wellington or on (04) 918 8800. More information is also available on the ministry’s website at www.justice.govt.nz/courts.
- If your complaint concerns the conduct of a Judge you should contact the Judicial Conduct Commissioner at firstname.lastname@example.org or on free phone 0800 800 323.
- Other organisations which may be able to help you with your complaint, or with information about your complaint, are:
- Citizens Advice Bureaus: See the phone book or www.cab.org.nz for local offices, or free phone 0800 367 222.
- Community Law Offices: See the phone book or www.communitylaw.org.nz for local offices
- The Health and Disability Commissioner: www.hdc.org.nz/
- The Howard League for Penal Reform: www.howardleague.co.nz
- NZ PARS on (04) 4724 385 or 0800 727 754.
Human rights standards
The New Zealand laws meant to protect the human rights of prisoners’ include:
- Human Rights Act 1993 – This protects people from unlawful discrimination.
- New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 – which protects the rights of people who have been arrested or detained and the rights of people charged with an offence. It also ensures the right to a fair trial and the right to justice
- Crimes of Torture Act 1989 – This prohibits crimes of torture.
- Corrections Act 2004 – This sets out the minimum entitlements [for prisoners] and also governs the running of prisons.
International human rights standards and guidelines meant to protect the human rights of prisoners’ include:
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners
- Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
For further information about your rights as a prisoner read:
- Human Rights Commission – New Zealand Bill of Rights Act
- The Howard League for Penal Reform – What rights do you have as a prisoner.