Monday, May 6, 2013

ZenTiger Serious Abuse Under NZ Government Care

Who watches the watchmen?
The Confidential Listening and Assistance Service was created in 2008 to hear stories about people abused under State Care before 1992. Why 1992? Some-one decided that the NZ Government has robust systems after that date to manage complaints of abuse. If this is the case, why limit the date - very few people should theoretically speak up about events after 1992 if they already have other channels that they feel will treat their story seriously. That's now 20 years ago - so the data should be in. Open the investigations wide open and let's test that assumption. Or is it harder to deflect blame when the historical abuse case is only a few years old? [Like this one]

Already, 702 people have stepped forward to detail sexual and physical abuse whilst under NZ state care. This panel makes it clear that it is not a legal forum, nor a forum for compensation, but rather a forum to listen and advise what the victims might be able to do to move forward.

This is interesting, and no doubt helpful. I applaud the initiative.  However, after hearing cases of criminal deeds, why are they not obliged to report the crime to the police? Why are they exempt from acting on the information? This effectively means that credible testimony may be presented that points to the tip of the iceberg, and yet the same people may still be in positions of power today, or there may be other victims that will come forward once the perpetrators are named. There seems to be no mechanism to hold people accountable. It sets the idea that criminal acts by people working with vulnerable children are fine if the victims don't have their complaints converted to meaningful action.  Maybe that is best done by a separate agency - like a special branch within police or DIA to follow up on these cases - but I haven't heard anything about linking these two processes together in the various websites and press releases I've seen.

An important part of the report released recently on their work suggests that many of these people stepping forward now claim they did register complaints, and did try to get heard but nothing was done about their victimization.

So, after this process, is nothing still going to be done?

I'd like to see what level of follow-up and investigation into the people, their direct managers, and the government departments are triggered and held accountable? If these people are encouraged to use other avenues to receive justice, then what is being done about following this up?  Arguably, there should be at least 702 active cases. Anonymity can be preserved whilst still indicating how many people responsible for (a) the criminal acts and (b) their management team and (c) the people that received the complaint, are all investigated further with possible charges to be laid.

But I'm not holding my breath.  It would seem more likely that these cases will focus on the victims, and thus let the perpetrators off the hook if there is no meaningful effort to link the two things together. An important part of democracy is ensuring there are checks on government power.  Or as the saying goes: Who watches the watchmen?


Source Article below break.

Abuse of children in care can’t be ignored
Monday, 29 April 2013, 9:09 am
Press Release: New Zealand Labour Party

29 April 2013

Abuse of children in care can’t be ignored

A report on the work of the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service should be enforced reading for anyone involved in keeping children in state care safe, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson and Spokesperson for Children, Jacinda Ardern says.

The service was established in 2008 by the Labour government to provide assistance for people who allege abuse or neglect or have concerns about their time in state care prior to 1992. The panel has heard from 702 participants, with a further 267 yet to have their concerns heard.

“The report, obtained through the Official Information Act, notes that at the time they were abused victims felt their voices were generally not sought, heard, or, worse, believed.

“They wanted to share their experience for no other reason than to prevent other children from going through the same thing they did, yet cases of children being abused in state care are still being reported.

“The service has done excellent work. However we now need to act – and that means taking a systematic approach to the issues raised by these victims and taking a critical look at state care in all its forms, from foster care through to residential care and kinship care, which former ombudsman, Mel Smith, has already urged us to investigate.

“If we fail to do that, then we fail every one of those people and every other abused child that follows them.

“The first step would be for the Government to widen the net of people able to access the service by bringing forward the 1992 cut-off point.”
ends

2 comment(s):

Rai said...

Good to see coverage of the issues this article raises. I was recently part of the historic abuse claims and recently sent this letter to the Hon Paula Bennett about human rights violations in the claims process. Just part of this letter covers the CLAS http://newzealandchildabuse.com/human-rights-violations-in-new-zealands-historic-abuse-claims-process/ The problems are actually far reaching and those who had their human rights violated by the state as children are now having their human rights violated again.

Rai said...

Good to see coverage of the issues this article raises. I was recently part of the historic abuse claims and recently sent this letter to the Hon Paula Bennett about human rights violations in the claims process. Just part of this letter covers the CLAS http://newzealandchildabuse.com/human-rights-violations-in-new-zealands-historic-abuse-claims-process/ The problems are actually far reaching and those who had their human rights violated by the state as children are now having their human rights violated again.

Post a Comment

Please be respectful. Foul language and personal attacks may get your comment deleted without warning. Contact us if your comment doesn't appear - the spam filter may have grabbed it.