Allegations New Zealand prison guards accept bribes from prisoners

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The New Zealand Department of Corrections is currently investigating allegations at the Rimutaka prison in Wellington, New Zealand. The prison guards have allegedly accepted monetary bribes from prisoners in exchange for drugs and cellphones.

Two former officers, Ingrid and Mark Rijniers, have handed over a collection of documents on their encounters while working at Rimutaka prison. The pair, who were transferred from Holland, claim that Rimutaka prison is run by gang members who dominate the prison guards. They also claim that if the gang members don't get what they want they will intimidate and threaten the guards with their lives. However, Ingrid Rijniers is refusing to co-operate with the department because they refused to give her the money to return to Holland.

The New Zealand Corrections Department says it is taking these claims seriously but has not yet found sufficient evidence to back up the claims.

Simon Power, justice and corrections spokesman for the National party, said that the allegations are appalling and reflect heavily on the Corrections Department. Mr Powers said that Barry Matthews, chief executive of the Department of Corrections, does not know what is happening in his prisons. "That means the Minister, Damien O'Connor, will be equally clueless."

Twelve percent of 1,043 prisoners who were tested for drugs from the start of this year until June, tested positive for drugs. Most of the drugs taken was marijuana while fourteen tested positive for "P". In addition, a teenage prisoner, Liam Ashley, was recently strangled to death in a prison van by a much older adult prisoner. Mr Power said that with all these new claims emerging, Mr O'Conner should resign as the minister of corrections.