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HRC backs independent inquiry into abuse

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 1/12/2016

The Human Rights Commission has backed the call for an independent inquiry in the abuse suffered by New Zealanders while under state care.

Judge Carolyn Henwood chaired the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service panel that heard the harrowing stories of more than 1100 people who were under the care of the government.

She has called for an independent inquiry, a recommendation that Disability Rights Commissioner Paul Gibson supports.

"We must ensure the abuse of children and vulnerable adults in state care never happens again," he said.

"We need to learn from the past to make sure we never repeat it."

Mr Gibson said an independent inquiry would investigate and publicly report on the conditions that children and vulnerable adults in state care were subjected to.

It would identify the policies, practices and monitoring processes that were in place, he said.

"As long as the public does not have the full picture about what happened, they cannot fully understand the extent of the abuse that took place or the systemic issues that allowed it to occur.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said earlier this week that the government had paid more than $17 million to victims.

But it wouldn't be holding an independent investigation or making a public apology, another of Judge Henwood's recommendations.

Mrs Tolley said the Ministry for Social Development was independent and impartial and had already settled 900 claims with recognition of abuse, a personal apology and monetary compensation.

Her position has been criticised by opposition parties.

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