Thursday, September 27, 2012

Another unlawful detention

A couple of weeks ago, the police got some positive media coverage for this witty (if plagiarised) response to a question about police harassment. Meanwhile, in the real world, they're unlawfully arresting teenagers and denying them their basic rights:

Two Upper Hutt teenagers have told of their humiliating and traumatising ordeal at the hands of police, who arrested and strip-searched the pair before locking them up for 36 hours.

Apart from making shocking allegations about the incident itself - one of the girls having to express breast milk into a sink after being separated from her baby, not getting toilet paper for the weekend and being denied contact with their parents and lawyers - their experience has also triggered longer-term effects, their families say.

Neither girl is now attending school - one after being kicked out for becoming aggressive and unruly after the arrest, the other for fearing her baby would be taken away by Child, Youth and Family after fellow pupils taunted her for being "a criminal".


Earlier this week Youth Court judge Mary O'Dwyer gave permission to report her findings, in which she ruled the arrests unlawful and dismissed the charges.

She criticised the police's decision not to free the girls on bail, to keep them in custody for more than 24 hours and to not consult a senior social worker before doing so, which is required by law.

This is a basic denial of the rights affirmed in the Bill of Rights Act, including the right to bail, the right to consult a lawyer, the right to be treated with humanity and respect, and the right not to be arbitrarily arrested or detained. Its also a violation of the rights of young people and the basic standards we expect of government agencies in dealing with them. These violations are not just wrong - they also look set to cost us tens of thousands of dollars in compensation - and all because police do not take our fundamental rights seriously.

Remember that next time police make light of harassment. Its real, its wrong, and it costs us all. And the police need to clean their fucking act up and purge those officers who think this sort of shit is acceptable.