Serco private prison hell in New Zealand


This video from New Zealand says about itself:

24 July 2015

Patrick Gower and Lisa Owen lay out the timeline of the allegations at Mt Eden Prison and uncover more of Serco‘s shortfalls.

By Tom Peters in New Zealand:

Inhumane conditions in privately run New Zealand prison

19 December 2015

The National Party government announced on December 9 that it will not renew the contract for UK-based company Serco to manage Auckland’s Mount Eden Prison when the contract expires in 2017.

The announcement followed months of revelations about the inhumane conditions at the remand prison. Since the government privatised management of Mt Eden in 2011, Serco has been served with 55 breach of contract notices for a wide range of issues, including understaffing, inadequate staff training and leaving dangerous items like razor blades in prisoners’ possession.

Video footage emerged in the media during July showing organised “fight clubs” among inmates and at least one Serco guard. There have been claims that guards also failed to stop beatings among prisoners.

Former prisoner Kevin Mussard is taking legal action against Serco, claiming it failed to prevent him being almost beaten to death. The family of Alex Littleton has also blamed Serco for not stopping an attack on him in February when he was allegedly thrown from a prison balcony and broke both his legs.

An Ombudsman’s report released this month revealed that under Serco’s management around 70 remand prisoners aged 16 to 19 were being confined to their cells 23 hours a day, apparently because staff cuts meant they could not be supervised. The report noted that prisoners’ conditions had worsened since a similar critical report in 2014. In April that year, the Ombudsman’s office warned against the practice of locking up teenage prisoners for 19 hours a day.

Such solitary confinement has been defined by the United Nations as inhuman and degrading punishment, which may sometimes amount to torture. Then corrections minister Sam Lotu-Iiga told Fairfax Media on December 3 that the practice was “unacceptable” but added: “That’s the nature of our prisons … they are hard places.”

In response to media coverage of the prisoner “fight clubs,” the Corrections Department took over the running of Mt Eden Prison in July. In a further attempt at damage control, this month Prime Minister John Key replaced Lotu-Iiga with Judith Collins as corrections minister.

Serco, however, will retain its 25-year contract to run Wiri Prison, which opened in May in South Auckland. Key told the media that Serco would also be allowed to “re-pitch or re-tender” for the Mt Eden contract in 2017. At her swearing-in on December 14, Collins declared that she had no regrets about awarding Serco the contract to run Mt Eden when she was previously corrections minister at the end of 2010.

The government is committed to private prisons as part of its austerity agenda, aimed at cutting costs and boosting corporate profits at the expense of working people. It is moving to sell off thousands of state houses, privatise more welfare services and expand for-profit charter schools.

For years the government covered up the unsafe and inhuman conditions at Mt Eden Prison. The Corrections Department issued no more than financial wrist slaps for Serco’s repeated breaches of prisoner safety. On April 1, Lotu-Iiga assured parliament that the prison had an “excellent” record, claiming “it is one of the highest-performing prisons in New Zealand.”

Serco has been implicated in human rights abuses elsewhere. Since 2009, the company has operated prison-like detention camps in Australia where asylum seekers are held indefinitely in atrocious conditions. There has been a litany of protests, hunger strikes, suicides and reports of abuse by detainees, including last month’s riot at the Christmas Island detention centre following the death of refugee Fazel Chegeni.

At the Serco-run Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre in England, detainees have alleged verbal, physical and sexual abuse by staff, limited legal representation, scant access to interpreters and poor standards of health care.

New Zealand’s main opposition Labour and Green Parties called for the government to immediately sack Serco. Labour’s corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis, posing as a champion of prisoners’ rights, told the media on December 9: “Private prisons just aren’t working. They haven’t worked overseas and they’re not working here … [Corrections Minister] Judith Collins brought [Serco] in and now she has to sort the mess out that she started.”

Such statements are profoundly hypocritical. For a start, the country’s first privately-run prison was Auckland Central Remand Prison, operated by Australasian Correctional Management (ACM) from 2000 to 2005, during the Labour government of Prime Minister Helen Clark. Labour and its coalition partner, the “left wing” Alliance Party, agreed to honour ACM’s five-year contract to run the prison, signed by the previous National government in 1999. Legislation to ban private prisons was not passed until 2004.

While criticising the abuses at Mt Eden Prison, Labour agrees with National’s basic agenda of austerity and privatisation. It has made no pledge to renationalise power companies or social housing if it wins the 2017 election.

Successive governments have promoted hard-line “law and order” policies, including tougher jail sentences and increased police powers, to deal with the social tensions produced by the crisis of capitalism. The 1999–2008 Labour government opened four new prisons and oversaw a 36 percent increase in prisoner numbers, from 4,917 in 1999 to 7,771 by the end of 2007 (by the end of 2014 the figure reached 8,641). By 2006, New Zealand’s incarceration rate was one of the highest in the OECD, with 185 prisoners for every 100,000 people, more than double the rate in 1987.

Labour oversaw squalid and dangerous conditions in publicly-run prisons. An Ombudsman’s report from December 2005 found that prisons were struggling with soaring prisoner numbers. Many were kept in their cells with nothing to do for up to 15 hours a day. A report by the New Zealand Herald on February 28, 2006, noted that “as the nation’s prisons have filled to overflowing, police cells have been called in to hold surplus prisoners for days and sometimes weeks.”

The Herald reported that 95 percent of prisoners with drug and alcohol problems could receive no treatment in 2006 due to a lack of programs. It also pointed out that the 140-year-old Mt Eden Prison building was in a severe state of disrepair, with “sub-standard conditions for inmates (e.g. insufficient day light and day space)” and sewage flooding onto the exercise yard.

Conditions have worsened under National, which introduced double-bunking in some prisons in 2009 (installing bunks in cells intended for one person). A report on New Zealand by the United Nations Committee Against Torture, released in May, criticised overcrowding and inadequate health services for prisoners, the high number of assaults at Mount Eden, and the disproportionate rate of imprisonment among Maori.

British government imprisons raped refugee women, causing self-harm


This video from England says about itself:

Yarl’s Wood: Undercover in the secretive immigration detention centre | Channel 4 News

2 March 2015

The treatment of detainees inside the notorious Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre is revealed in exclusive footage obtained by a Channel 4 News investigation.

Warning: this film contains offensive language from the start.

[Quote from Serco mercenary guard at Yarl’s Wood prison]: ‘They’re all animals. Caged animals. Right? Take a stick in with you and beat them up.’

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Yarl’s Wood medics out weekly to treat self-harm

Saturday 4th July 2015

Attended cases feared to be ‘tip of the iceberg’ for imprisoned immigrant victims of torture and rape

SELF-HARM has become so prevalent at the infamous Yarl’s Wood immigrant removal facility that medics have to be called in at least once a week, the Home Office revealed yesterday.

Newly published figures show that in 2014 there were 61 incidents of self-harm which required medical treatment, while in 2013 there were 74.

However, the figures only cover those incidents in which medical attention was given, leading to concerns that they may only be the tip of the iceberg.

The revelation prompted warnings that immigration detention can cause mental illness and could lead to instances of self-harm among vulnerable inmates, many of whom have suffered torture or rape.

“What you have heard is true,” Ugandan detainee Juliette Akao told the Star by phone from Yarl’s Wood.

“The women here are very depressed and have many problems. Things like this happen every day. There is no proper healthcare or concern about what’s happening. The ladies have to help each other. The situation is very bad.”

Ms Akao, herself a victim of torture, rape and sexual abuse, said that a culture of disbelief that permeates the immigration system was a major problem.

“No-one believes you,” she said. “If you have gone through torture in your own life you think you are coming to a country that respects human rights. But this is an inhuman culture and people need to know what is happening.

“It is very sad that a country like this, which says it respects human rights and criticises others for abusing them, is doing exactly the same thing here.”

The removal centre, near Bedford, is run by profiteer Serco and houses nearly 400 people awaiting deportation, most of whom are women.

In March, Serco suspended two members of staff after a Channel 4 News investigation raised questions about standards of care at the centre, with one officer recorded saying: “Let them slash their wrists” and several others referring to detainees as “animals.”

Medical Justice sends volunteer doctors to see detainees and claims to have seen hundreds of cases of seriously inadequate healthcare.

“In many cases immigration detention exacerbates existing medical conditions and in some cases has been the cause of mental illness,” said co-ordinator Emma Ginn.

“There have been a number of fatalities including self-inflicted deaths and we fear that, with no improvement in conditions, there could be more.”

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said that women who had been sexually abused, tortured or were pregnant should not be detained and called for an “urgent review” of Yarl’s Wood.

“The government is overseeing the worst of all worlds in the asylum system — more people detained, and for longer, with fewer deportations,” she said.

“Too many women are left in a hellish limbo in detention centres.”

NEWS that conditions at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre have “deteriorated” over the past year to the point where almost half of the women held there fear for their safety will come as no surprise to those who have followed the case: here.

Demand grows for closure of UK’s Yarl’s Wood detention centre: here.