Labour Spokesperson for Social Development and Children
Dear Ms Ardern,
I am writing in order to formally ask what the NZ Labour party’s position is on holding an independent, impartial and public inquiry into historic child abuse in New Zealand State run Institutions? I would note that at this stage the National party has the CLAS process. However, this service listens to the stories of those who were abused in State care but then this information is withheld from the public domain. As Judge Carolyn Henwood, the woman who heads CLAS has pointed out, “No government has called for a public inquiry. One part of there not being an inquiry is that the public don’t know about any of this”… findings are “kept under the radar”. While, Ken Clearwater from the Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust put it, the CLAS process has helped the government keep “the lid of a whole can of worms” (And) the service is an attempt to buy off “people…who wanted a public inquiry and an apology.”
Further, I would note that a story published by ‘Fairfax NZ News’ in April of 2013 titled, ‘Abuse victims let down by system’, states:
“Ms Ardern did not see the need for a public inquiry because the (CLAS) panel had already completed the work necessary.”
Ms Ardern, this seems incorrect. On the national.org.nz website, dated May 20th 2013, a statement by Hon Paula Bennett reads:
“The Government has committed $16 million over the next four years to continue the Ministry’s successful Historic Claims Resolution Process for those abused in care… “The funding announced today will allow us to continue to help the 760 people with outstanding claims and those who have not yet come forward. In addition, the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service has provided support services to more than 700 people as a part of the historic claims process. Close to $1.9 million over two years will enable MSD to help fund the Service.”
Clearly then, given there are 760 people waiting to speak to CLAS, CLAS has not “completed the work necessary”.
As such, could you please clarify in writing what Labour’s position is on holding a public inquiry outside of the CLAS process? Notably, as outlined in my letter surrounding human rights violations within the historic abuse claims process, sent to yourself on July 1 2013, the CLAS process fails to provide claimants with an impartial and independent investigation (I.e. it is a case of the Government investigating itself) and, as such, the CLAS process violates the human rights of the historic abuse claimants.
Regarding the letter sent to yourself on July 1 2013, as mentioned above, I would note that I contacted you on May 27, 2013 with:
“Hi Jacinda, I’ve been in touch before about the Government’s handling of the historic abuse claims through the MSD process and have placed up this website www.http://newzealandchildabuse.com/
I’m currently studying a masters in human rights in Australia and am wondering whether you would be open to reading an open letter to parliament from just one of the historic abuse claimants regarding the process from a personal and human rights perspective? I’ve just been reading this https://nz.news.yahoo.com/election/a/-/17248533/funding-continues-to-resolve-historic-abuse-claims/ and it seems that while the media are giving the government plenty of PR spin time their seems absolutely no voice coming from the other side such as claimants speaking of the way they feel about the MSD process.”
You responded on the 28/05/13 with:
I then sent you the finished letter on July 1 2013 and no confirmation that you had received the letter/correspondence was sent to myself.
On August 25th I then sent this:
“Hi Jacinda, I haven’t heard back from you regarding my letter surrounding human rights violations within the Historic Abuse Claims process. I’m speculating that perhaps this is because some of the matters I raised apply to your Government also and, hence, create a conflict of interest. The other thing I realised after writing the letter is that there is bipartisan support between National and Labour not to hold a public inquiry in the historic abuse claims. That is bipartisan support to not launch an independent and impartial investigation into the crimes committed against State Wards by the State. Can I get feedback of the official position here as I am currently working with a Human Rights lawyer on drafting a complaint to the CAT Committee about ongoing human rights violations by the NZ State. “
To date I have had no response. As such, firstly, let me ask that yourself or someone at your office please acknowledge that this correspondence has been received. And secondly, may I also ask whether you are prepared to present my letter to members of the NZ Parliament as originally agreed? Further, if you are not prepared to present this letter may I ask why?
I’d also add that a copy of the letter was sent to Hon Paula Bennett on 25th July 2013. I received this from her Electorate Agent, Vivienne Brumby on 26 July 2013:
Thank you for your email which has arrived at the Waitakere Electorate office. As your correspondence is addressed to Paula in her role as Minister I have forwarded it to the Minister’s Office in Wellington.”
This said, after receiving no response from Ms Bennett for over a month I contacted her parliamentary office on September 4 and spoke with Ms Bennett’s private secretary only to be informed they had not received my correspondence. I have subsequently resent it and received confirmation that it has now been received with:
Email safely received. I will pass on to Fau Logo in our office and she will be in touch shortly.”
As such I am hoping to receive answers to the questions I raise in my letter to Ms Bennett within the next couple of weeks.
With this correspondence I have attached the latest draft of the original human rights violations within the historic abuse claims process letter that I sent you on July 1 2013. Given that I received no confirmation that you received this letter I am assuming that there may have been a clerical glitch or other, given, seemingly, Ms Bennett also never received a copy of my letter.
Further, I am drafting a submission to the UN Convention Against Torture Committee regarding the ongoing human right violations by the NZ State in the historic abuse cases and would request that my questions be answered diligently, comprehensively and within a reasonable timeframe (I believe this is stated as two weeks within parliamentary procedure). May I also have confirmation that this correspondence has been received?