The prisoner advocacy organisation People Against Prisons Aotearoa (PAPA) protested today for the right of prisoners to vote. The picket was held outside Nikki Kaye’s office in Auckland Central.
“Denying prisoners the right to vote is a blatant breach of their human rights,” says PAPA spokesperson Emilie Rākete.
Since 2010, all sentenced prisoners have been unable to vote. “There are more than 7,000 people in prison who will be unable to vote this year,” says Rākete.
“The majority of those people are Māori. This should be seen for what it is: a racist attempt to disenfranchise some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable people.”
“At multiple points since 1840, the Crown has used different methods to limit the voting rights of Māori. The ban on prisoner voting is a continuation of policies that have undermined Māori participation in the electoral process.”
PAPA demands that Parliament urgently overturn the voting ban. “The disenfranchisement of thousands of people further undermines the legitimacy of the electoral process. Immediate steps must be taken to fix this.”
“Voting is a basic human right. Denying prisoners that right sends the message that the government does not consider prisoners to be fully human.”
“Because the government doesn’t see prisoners as humans who deserve human rights, it then feels justified in treating them in a degrading and inhumane way. Corrections performs hundreds of thousands of unnecessary strip searches every year, and locks mentally unwell prisoners in solitary confinement.”
“New Zealand needs to seriously re-evaluate its criminal justice system, starting with granting people in prison the basic human right of voting.”