Compensation law change is “eye-for-an-eye” justice – Ombudsman

A bill allowing victims to get part of the compensation paid to prisoners is “eye-for-an-eye” justice,  according to the Ombudsman Beverly Wakem.

Some criminals have received large compensation payments for violation of their human rights. The Prisoners’ and Victims’ Claims (Continuation and Reform) Amendment Bill will make permanent earlier temporary legislation which allowed victims of crime to seek a share of any compensation prisoners may have received.

“I think that part of the bill is arguably in breach of human rights law,” Wakem told Parliament’s justice select committee on Thursday 22 February.

She said it would be better to focus on a better compensation scheme for victims generally.

Wakem says the proposed legislation “sends a message to prisoners that, really, the justice system in New Zealand is retributive, an eye-for-an-eye, a tooth-for-a-tooth, and I’m on my own mate.”

That left little incentive for prisoners to participate in rehabilitation in prison or on release.

Then those un-rehabilitated prisoners were returned to the community, Wakem said.

In 2011 the Dominion Post reported  six figure compensation payouts to five prisoners who were held at Auckland’s Paremoremo prison.

At the time Human rights lawyer Tony Ellis said he was seeking compensation in the Auckland High Court for a further 72 criminals who were subjected to inhumane treatment by Auckland prison staff between 1998 and 2004, and estimated more than 100 others could still claim.


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