The Government has been advised by the United Nations to pay and release two serial rapists from prison.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC) ruled that the rights of New Zealand prisoners Michael Carroll and Allan Miller had been breached while in prison.
The decision was based on evidence that the prisoners were denied proper rehabilitation services and had been left in punitive conditions after their non-parole period had finished.
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The Government will have six months to respond to the HRC ruling, and have said they will consider it.
Human rights lawyer Tony Ellis took their cases to the HRC last year.
Mr Ellis told Wendyl Nissen that he’s been on these cases for the last ten years.
“I thought the system of preventive detention that we have in this country didn’t meet human rights standards, and I was proved correct,” he said.
The purpose of preventative detention is to protect New Zealanders from potentially dangerous individuals, Mr Ellis explained, rather than as a punishment.
Carroll and Miller became eligible for parole in 1998 and 2001, respectively.
But Mr Ellis said that they were punished as punitive prisoners for much longer than the ten years of punitive detention they were required to serve.
“It’s wrong,” he told RadioLIVE.
Carroll and Miller’s rights were also breached for not receiving rehabilitation services, which are intended to help prisoners prepare to re-enter society.
“If you get treated, you’re going to be a lot safer when you are released,” said Mr Ellis.
The Government has now been told to pay reparation to Carroll and Miller as well as “immediately reconsider their continued detention and take steps towards their release”, Mr Ellis explained.
Minister of Justice Andrew Little said that the Government will take the HRC decision and recommendations seriously.
Should the preventative system be reviewed, the HRC’s decision could lead to better treatment of more than 850 prisoners currently serving life sentences or in preventive detention.
Listen to the full interview with Tony Ellis above.
The Long Lunch with Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.