Abuse Claims Against New Zealand Institutions Continue To
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 22, 2004
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND--The numbers of people who have come forward to state that they were abused by staff and other patients while housed at New Zealand mental institutions continue to climb, the Dominion Post reported Monday.
Wellington attorney Roger Chapman said that a "fairly steady trickle" of new claims were still coming into his office and that of fellow attorney Sonja Cooper.
More than 300 people who were patients at psychiatric institutions in the 1960s and 1970s have alleged that they were beaten, sexually assaulted, over-medicated, unwillingly subjected to experiments in electro-convulsive treatments, and placed in isolation for long periods of time -- sometimes for months.
Most were between 8 and 16 years of age at the time.
So far, more than 70 claims have been filed with the High Court, Chapman said. Each case is asking for as much as $500,000 in compensation and up to $50,000 in exemplary damages.
More cases are being prepared.
Chapman said he hoped government lawyers would negotiate an out-of-court settlement, primarily because the abuse victims do not want to relive their childhood trauma during a trial.
Most of the facilities named in the claims are either are closed or no longer operate as mental institutions.