People in prison must be protected from COVID-19 

The below is a joint-statement which can be attributed to JustSpeak and Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand following more people testing positive in Auckland Mt Eden Corrections Facility.

People in prison have their liberty restricted making them a vulnerable population. Because of these restrictions, people in prison do not have the same autonomy to protect themselves against COVID-19. Due to the communal nature of prisons, people within these facilities are particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19.

The responsibility to care for people in prison falls on the agencies restricting their liberty, and the Ministers responsible for those agencies.

We wrote to the Minister of Corrections in August asking for an update and highlighting the importance of taking proactive measures to protect people in prison, including priority access to vaccinations. We remind the Government of its duties under international and domestic human rights law; people in prison deserve dignity and care, including access to health care and, PPE equipment when needed, and crucially right now vaccinations. Recognising it’s a stressful and anxious time for many people, it’s important requests for medical attention, including mental health support, are attended to immediately. We expect proactive measures are being undertaken to pre-emptively assess and mitigate risk for both those who live and work in these facilities.

Investing in measures that uphold the dignity and wellbeing of people in prison is vital to ensuring we all get through this together and do not allow prisons to become hubs of infection that cause further outbreaks within our communities.