Minister Kelvin Davis Must Take Responsibility – Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand

Amnesty International is today raising the alarm at reports a person has died at Mt Eden Prison after pepper spray was used on him.

Lisa Woods, Campaigns Director for Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand, said, “If these reports are true, it is a further indication that the use of pepper spray by Corrections needs to be examined. We are concerned that pepper spray is not being deployed humanely, which is deeply worrying. The consequences can be severe.”

Amnesty International has been warning of the very real risks of pepper spray use by Corrections following reports over the horrific treatment of women in Auckland Women’s Prison. Prison staff used what is called “Cell Buster Extraction”, when pepper spray was continuously pumped into a cell to try to control the women.

“Public comments made by Minister Davis just last month indicate he is comfortable with the use of pepper spray. However, serious incidents like those we’ve already seen indicate problems when it comes to humane use,” Woods said.

Reports that in this recent instance the man was in a mental health unit at the prison before the alleged spraying took place are also worrying.

Woods said, “Any of us who are suffering ill health would expect to be treated with care. But this man was forced to rely on the prison system for his care. That system appears to have failed him in the worst possible way when he was mentally unwell. This is unacceptable.

“With an ongoing stream of serious human rights issues in our prison system, the Minister must take responsibility and act now to ensure all people in prison are safe and treated with dignity and care.”

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