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UN recommends inquiry into New Zealand care abuse

Staff Writer |
The United Nations has recommended the New Zealand government establish an independent commission of inquiry into the abuse of children and adults with disabilities while in state care from 1950 to 1990.

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At least 100,000 New Zealand children and disabled adults were taken off their families and held in state institutions between the 1960s and 1990s.

In February, a group of prominent New Zealanders demanded an independent inquiry into historical state abuse and led an open letter petition with support from the Human Rights Commission that garnered almost 12,000 signatures.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said it was alarmed by the reports of alleged abuse of children in foster care or state institutions.

It acknowledged the government's intention to compensate victims but said this approach fails to expose the systemic problems that may have existed.

It is also concerned M?ori children are still more likely to be placed in state care, and the proposal to send young offenders to military style boot camps.

“The truth needs to be told and we welcome these recommendations from the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination," said Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy.

“We need to shine a light on the abuse that took place in our state institutions. Those who were responsible should be held accountable, we must learn from the past so we can ensure that this can never happen again.”

“We suspect that M?ori children were taken for little or no reason at all and were more likely to be taken from their whanau than other children: but until we have an inquiry we will never know for sure,” said Dame Susan.

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