New Zealand NPM wants 'more feet on the ground'

Monday, April 15, 2013

More feet on the ground: this is what we need! This message came from representatives of the New Zealand National Preventive Mechanism, during a two day workshop with the APT on how to work more strategically.

For the first time since they started operating under the framework of the UN torture prevention treaty OPCAT, the New Zealand National Preventive Mechanism gathered in early April 2013 for a two-day workshop to turn their ideas into action. The discussions were based on the outcomes of a recent review of the NPM (composed of five institutions) after five years of operations. At the end of the two day workshop participants came up with a draft action plan, identifying five main priority areas: NPM leadership, operations, evidence-based practice, outreach strategy and resources.

Upcoming visit of the SPT

The workshop took place just a few weeks before the inaugural visit of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) to New Zealand. The NPMs discussed how best they could use the opportunity of the SPT visit to raise specific issues of concern in relation to the situation in detention and to their operations.

The APT, invited to facilitate the strategic thinking exercise, was thrilled by the team spirit and collective identity of the New Zealand NPM institutions. We now hope that the workshop will help raise more support for the NPM. The New Zealand NPM is relatively poorly funded compared to NPMs in other countries with similar geography and prison population. Although it has been able to operate with very limited resources in the first six years of its existence, this situation is not sustainable. The SPT’s visit to New Zealand, as well as the country's forthcoming Universal Periodic Review and review by the UN Committee against Torture, should remind the government of its obligations to provide adequate funding to their NPM.

The APT also held two roundtables discussions: the first one with the authorities, sharing views and practices related to the SPT’s visit. The APT highlighted the importance of the publication of the report of the SPT to enable proper follow-up of the implementation of the SPT’s recommendations. The second roundtable was dedicated to discuss similar issues with civil society organisations based in Wellington.