Good work by Rahui Katene, Maori Party MP for Te Tai Tonga in voicing good opposition to the secret Bill that fixes - that since 2008 it has been unlawful for police to retain identifying particulars of children and young people who have been through the youth justice system and subjected to a penalty less than conviction. This is not just about fixing that loophole. The secrecy apparently was so that no young person could take the Government to court. Labour did the deal with the gnats and The Maori Party, Chris Carter and The Greens opposed it today.
We know that Māori youth are arrested more and that part of this is due to racial profiling. Below-conviction-threshold options like family group conferences and restorative justice are there because they work and provide alternatives for rehabilitation. These young people have made mistakes but they have not breached the conviction threshold and therefore should not have their fingerprints and photos taken and stored in some database.
Rahui is speaking strongly here
Our focus – in raising the questions we have – is to bring to the House the opportunity to talk about youth wellbeing rather than simply promoting yet another forum for politicians to talk about the perils of youth; and the need to hold the fingerprints of youth who have been admonished by a judge.
I would really recommend that Members look carefully at sections 283 (a) to (n) of the Children, Young Persons and their families Act. These provisions – for children to be admonished; for young parents to attend a parenting programme; for young people to attend a mentoring programme – are now provisions for which the fingerprints and photographs of these young people are kept.
And I would suggest in particular that Mr Hipkins looks at this detail – that these orders from a very good piece of legislation were always intended to focus on child and youth wellbeing – not fodder for this Policing Bill.
I have been greatly disappointed by the nature of the debate today which has tried to close down discussion on the impacts for youth and instead focus on the mistakes of the statute.
This Bill may appear to just be about a tidy up of some legislation but it really is about how we treat our youth, particularly Māori youth. You can see why many feel let down and alienated. This personal identifying information is kept even though they have not received a conviction – this is just wrong. I mean, what next? - just take the information at birth - you know, for the greater good. It doesn’t take much to connect the dots from this type of harassment to the high Māori youth suicide rate. The issues have to be faced up to instead of degrading the debate and focusing it on the technicalities.
Our youth deserve more than platitudes and empty words. We have real issues because of how this society is constructed - this materialistic, individualistic approach based on capitalism is empty and dry - if you add in colonisation and patriarchy it can barely sustain life. It is our job to create the world for our children, not their job - blaming youth is pointless, stigmatising them is vindictive and counterproductive. We can make it better for our youth - it takes community and people, it takes culture and aroha. It takes listening.
Good on The Greens, Chris Carter, and The Maori Party (and I assume Mana as Hone’s proxy is still with the Greens I think) for opposing this and shame on Labour. The gnats have shown that money is their big driver yet again.