New Zealand - OPCAT Situation

Opcat status

OPCAT Ratification March 14, 2007
UNCAT Ratification December 10, 1989
NPM Designated

5 different bodies coordinated by the Human Rights Commission (central NPM), and including the Office of the Ombudsman, the Independent Police Conduct Authority, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner and the Inspector of Service Penal Establishments of the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Armed Forces.

NPM Type

Multiple Institutions

NPM Legal Framework

Crime of Torture Amendment Bill and its section on torture prevention (Part 2 of the consolidated version of the Crimes of Torture Act Torture prevention section)

New Zealand ratified the OPCAT in 2007 and designated five existing institutions as its NPM through the Crime of Torture Amendment Bill. The New Zealand NPM has been operational since then, with one of the designated institutions is acting as NPM coordinator: the Human Rights Commission.

Each designated institution has a specific thematic mandate under the OPCAT. In common with other designated NPMs, they face some operational challenges including a lack of additional human and financial resources granted to the specific institutions to perform their new functions under the OPCAT.

New Zealand Human Rights Commission (Central NPM)

The Commission has a variety of functions under the wider mandate of human rights promotion in New Zealand and operates independently. As an NPM, it undertakes a central role: it coordinates all NPM activities and identifies cross-cutting issues.

Office of the Ombudsmen

It has the mandate to visit prisons, immigration detention facilities, health and disability places of detention, aged care facilities, and, overlapping with the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, care and protection, and youth justice residences.

Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA)

It is a civilian oversight body. The mandate of the IPCA was extended by the Crime of Torture Amendment Bill. Under this Bill, it can monitor the treatment of persons in the custody of the police, in addition to its existing complaints and investigations role.

Office of the Children's Commissioner

It is an independent body appointed by the Governor-General. As an NPM, it monitors all places where minors are kept in juvenile detention facilities. Its mandate overlaps with the Office of the Ombudsmen.

Inspector of Service Penal Establishments

The Inspector visits Defence Force Service Custody and Service Corrective Establishments. This represents a significant development, as providing for the first time regular external monitoring of Defence Force detention facilities.

The SPT conducted a visit to New Zealand from 29 April to 8 May 2013. The report has been made public.

The SPT member who is the SPT Focal Point for New Zealand is available here.