A copy of the prison regulations is made available to the prisoners


Prisoners are informed of the prison rules and the routine of their units upon arrival.

The assignment in a cell varies according to the sex of the prisoners, the offence committed, the age of the offender.

Every person taken into custody by the police must fill out a risk assessment form (Health and Safety Management Plan for Person in Custody). The police officers then centralize all information in electronic records. They must decide whether the person is at risk of suicide or self-harm or not. Police staff and Corrections officers believe they are not properly trained to carry out this activity correctly.

Prisoners can be assisted by a lawyer throughout their incarceration


Offenders who cannot afford a lawyer have a right to access legal aid. For correctional offences, this assistance is a government loan and offenders may have to repay a part of it. For criminal offences facing prison sentences of six months or more, legal assistance is free.

Deaths in custody are logged in a register


Number of deaths attributed to suicide


/ Department of Corrections

Variation in the number of suicides


There were six times more self-harm incidents in 2015 than the year before (4 in 2014 to 26 in 2015).

Suicide prevention policies are implemented


Corrections Department staff must interview every prisoner upon arrival in order to identify any mental health needs or signs of suicidal thoughts. Inmates who are considered to be at risk of suicide or self-harm are hosted at-risk units, with limited fixtures and fittings. The cells are under 24-hour CCTV surveillance. Special clothing and bedding are also provided.1

  1. Department of Corrections - Preventing suicide and self harm

The United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT) was

yes, in 1989

signed in 1986

All allegations and suspicions of ill-treatment inflicted on prisoners are logged


Several prisons in New Zealand are known for being violent and overcrowded. Reports of assaults, sexual abuse and presence of illicit drugs surface regularly on the media.

Acts of violence between prisoners are investigated


The Chief Inspector of Corrections has undertaken to conduct an investigation on events occurred in prison. The report notes “widespread failings by the private prison provider including violence, drug use, haphazard staffing, and unhygienic conditions within the jail”. These allegations led to the Department of Correction’s decision to resume its contract with Serco, the British enterprise running Mount Eden since 2009.

Beven Hanlon, corrections Association industrial officer, declared that assaults in New Zealand prisons occur almost daily. He considers that prison officers are not properly equipped to step-in and break-up prison fights1.

Mount Eden male prison is known for being one of the prisons with the highest rates of assault, with one inmate assaulted nearly every three days. At the end of March 2015, 115 inmates were assaulted at Mount Eden Prison. Seven of them were subjected to serious physical or sexual assaults and had to be taken to the hospital. In early 2016, video evidence emerged which supported allegations that a ‘fight club’, in which prisoners were coerced into fighting each other, was operating at the Mount Eden Corrections Facility. Fights took place inside cells and happened “at least once a week2. There was no CCTV system installed in the prison.

  1. Prison beatings a daily danger” in New Zealand Herald, Apr 3rd 2015. 

  2. Serco failure won’t end privatization” in New Zealand Herald, Oct 6th 2016. 

Inmates can file complaints against the penitentiary administration.

The SPT noted the fact that it was not able to verify the status of prisoner’s complaints against staff and suggested they were not being considered promptly or properly. The SPT was also concerned over the fact that request and complaints were being submitted on the form and processed the same way: “As a result, simple requests are not dealt with quickly, and serious complaints can be trivialised.1

  1. UN Committee against Torture, CAT/C/NZL/CO/6, p. 10. 

Prisoners can make complaints via the internet, writing or by phone.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) was

yes, in 2007

signed in 2003

An NPM has been established

yes, in 2007

Name of the NPM

The Human Rights Commission

The NPM has come into office


Structure of the NPM

collegiate body

5 bodies compose the NPM:

  • The Human Rights Commission : serves as the Central figure, co-ordinating the 4 other bodies and reporting to the UN Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture.

  • The Office of the Ombudsman : monitors prisons, immigration, detention facilities, health and disability places of detention, and Child, Youth and Family residences. The Ombudsman can investigates individual cases, and publishes reports of its visits. It is directly accountable to the Parliament.

  • The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) : monitors treatment of detainees under police custody. The IPCA can make recommendations and conduct investigations but does not have power to prosecute police officers.

  • The Office of the Children’s Commissioner : monitors Youth Justice Services and child care centres.

  • The Inspector of Service Penal Establishments of the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Armed Force : monitors defence force penal establishments.

The NPM reports are made public


Making complaints to the Ombudsman can be done via email, fax, mail, or by downloading the online complaints form from their official website.

The NPM can monitor all prison facilities, units and premises


The Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture (SPT) has visited the country


Its report was made public


A SPT report was published in 2014.

The Government allows international monitoring of prisons. In the recent years, the UN Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention made visits and publish reports on the state of prisons in New Zealand.

The law provides for a sentence adjustment system


The Parole Act 2002 and the Parole Amendment Bills 2012 sets out the legal framework for early releases from detention.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention expressed its concern that the Amendment Bill 2012 reduced the number of parole hearings to one every two years instead of one every year.

The adjustment of sentences is authorized by the judge.

Specific categories of prisoners are ineligible for sentence adjustment


The Sentencing and Parole Reform Act 2010 introduced the ‘Strikes Regime’, where repeated conviction of offenders over 18 increases their penalties, and no parole is possible after the ‘second strike’. Furthermore, for ‘third strike offenders’, judges must hand out the maximum possible term of imprisonment without parole, regardless of the seriousness of the offence.