The Human Rights Commission and the other National Preventive Mechanisms (NPM) under the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) have repeatedly raised concerns about the way Government agencies detain some New Zealanders, including the use of seclusion and restraint in various detention settings such as prisons, youth justice facilities and mental health units.
To help address these issues, the Commission is leading a review into relevant policies and practices to identify good practices, as well as areas that require improvement.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights provided the Commission with funding to investigate seclusion and restraint practices in New Zealand. This will assist the Commission to follow up on recommendations made in 2013 by the United Nations Sub-Committee on the Prevention of Torture.
As part of this project, the Commission engaged an international expert in seclusion practices, Dr Sharon Shalev, to carry out an independent review of seclusion and restraint practices in New Zealand detention settings.
Dr Shalev is an international expert in the field of solitary confinement and seclusion. She is a research associate at the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of the Mannheim Centre for Criminology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She completed her doctorate on American Supermax Prisons.
Dr Shalev carried out a number of site visits in late 2016 and her report will be finalised and published in the coming months.