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Prisoner's rights

Making complaints about your treatment

Complaints to the Privacy Commissioner

What can the Privacy Commissioner investigate?

Privacy Act 1993, s 67

The Privacy Commissioner can investigate complaints about breaches of privacy and other breaches of the privacy laws – for example, if a prison muster sheet was published online, or if the Parole Board doesn’t provide you with updates to your file when you ask for them.

How can I complain to the Privacy Commissioner?

Privacy Act 1993, s 68

Before complaining to the Privacy Commissioner you need to follow the internal complaints system, which means you should complain to your PCO as a first step.

You can make your complaint in writing or by calling the Privacy Commissioner (0800 803 909).

What happens if the Privacy Commissioner upholds my complaint?

The Privacy Commissioner has several options. The Commissioner may try to arrange a settlement between you and the prison authorities, including an assurance (promise) from the prison that the interference with your privacy won’t happen again. Alternatively, the Commissioner may pass the complaint on to the Office of Human Rights Proceedings, which will decide whether to take a case against the prison to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

Can the Privacy Commissioner decide not to take action on my complaint?

Privacy Act 1993, s 71

Yes, the Privacy Commissioner can decide not to take action if you already have an existing remedy (another process for raising the problem) or right of appeal, or if the Commissioner believes your complaint is trivial, frivolous or vexatious or not made in good faith (in other words, your complaint is about something extremely minor or has only been made to cause trouble or you have some dishonest or improper motive in bringing the complaint).

The Privacy Commissioner may also decide that so much time has passed since the incident or failure that you’re complaining about that it would no longer be practicable or desirable to investigate it.

What can I do if the Privacy Commissioner doesn’t investigate?

If the Commissioner decides not to take any action you can take a case yourself to the Human Rights Review Tribunal against the prison (see below).

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Making complaints about your treatment

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Lag Law: Prisoner's Rights

Lag Law answers heaps of common questions you might have if you’re going to prison, you’re in prison, or you’re getting out of prison. It talks about your rights in prison, and sets out the laws and rules that affect you when you’re put in prison . 1 free copy for people in prison and the whānau of someone in prison. If that’s you, email laglaw@wclc.org.nz for your free copy

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