The NSW Liberal National Government has come under fire in questions from Greens MP’s Jenny Leong and Sue Higginson for their refusal to allow UN inspectors access to NSW prisons.
NSW is the only jurisdiction in Australia blocking the United Nations The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment access to prisons.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and Natasha Maclaren-Jones obfuscated the questions put to them in Question Time, demonstrating a disturbing avoidance of scrutiny and accountability.
Greens MP for Newtown and Spokesperson for Human Rights Jenny Leong said:
“What is the NSW Liberal National Government hiding in NSW prisons that they so desperately do not want the United Nations to see?
“United Nations inspectors have been granted access to prisons in every other jurisdiction in Australia, as well as Burkina Faso, Turkey, Mexico, Sri Lanka and across the European Union.
“Given the failures of the NSW Government to implement the full recommendations from the Royal Commisson’s Deaths in Custody report and track record of mistreating people in prison, it is deeply disturbing they think they are above the scrutiny of the UN torture watchdog. '' Ms Leong said
Greens Spokesperson for Corrective Services Sue Higginson said:
“The Minister’s answers were varied and inconsistent when asked about this issue today. I question the assertion that these inspections somehow pose a security risk, rather than doing what they are designed to do and assist in protecting the human rights of people in detention.
“My office regularly receives reports of denial of basic care for inmates such as the prevention of access to amenities and targeting of inmates with chronic health conditions and disabilities inside our prisons. I am gravely concerned that the NSW Government isn’t worried about the safety and security of visitors but actually doesn’t want these reports to reach the UN.
“The UN inspection is an important accountability mechanism to Australia upholding our international commitments and the NSW Government has shamefully failed.
“The Minister tried to say the reason they don’t want these inspections to happen is because the UN inspectors may arrive at youth detention centres in the middle of the night and has provided no clarity as to why this justifies banning access to all detention facilities in New South Wales.
“New South Wales now has a shameful mark on its international human rights record.” Ms Higginson said.