Commission supports call for independent inquiry into the abuse of New Zealanders in state care

Commission supports call for independent inquiry into the abuse of New Zealanders in state care

December 1, 2016

The Human Rights Commission says an independent inquiry into the abuse of New Zealanders while under the care of the state is needed if we are to ensure it never happens again.

Judge Carolyn Henwood chaired the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service panel that heard the stories of more than 1,100 people who had survived abuse while in the care of the government. She has called for an independent inquiry into the abuse.

“We must ensure the abuse of children and vulnerable adults in state care never happens again.  We need to learn from the past to make sure we never repeat it,” said Disability Rights Commissioner Paul Gibson.

“The Human Rights Commission supports the call from Judge Carolyn Henwood.”

“If we do not know what happened in the past then how can we guarantee it is not happening now?”

“As Disability Rights Commissioner I have heard many of the heart wrenching and appalling stories of disabled people in state care and their stories need to be heard and we need to learn from them,” said Mr Gibson.

“We challenge the Government’s assertion that there is no disability perspective involved.”

Mr Gibson said New Zealanders deserve to know the extent of the abuse suffered by thousands over many years: “An independent inquiry would investigate and publicly report on the conditions children and vulnerable adults in state care were subjected to.  It would identify the policies, practices and monitoring processes that were in place.”

“We have lessons to learn from our past. As long as the public does not have the full picture about what happened they cannot fully understand the extent of the abuse that took place or the systemic issues that allowed it to occur.”

“We are talking about a tragedy here. Survivors and their families need an acknowledgement of their suffering as well as a high level Government apology.”

Human Rights Commission

The Commission works for a free, fair, safe and just New Zealand, where diversity is valued and human dignity and rights are respected.