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Justice system 'filled with prejudice' - Flavell

Thursday 10 Apr 2014 5:43 a.m.

Nearly every Maori family has a member who has been labelled a criminal, Parliament has been told.

The Maori Party says that's a disgrace and the justice system is flawed.

"Maori are 15 percent of the population yet we are 50 percent of the prison population," co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said during yesterday's general debate.

"But it's not just the proportion of prisoners who are Maori, it's the proportion of Maori who are actually prisoners."

Mr Flavell said for Maori males born in 1975 it was estimated that 22 percent had served a custodial or community sentence before their 20th birthday.

By the time they were 35, 44 percent had served a custodial or community sentence.

"This means that virtually every Maori whanau in the country will have someone who has been labelled a criminal," Mr Flavell said.

"Maori are four to five times more likely to be apprehended, prosecuted and convicted than non-Maori, and in the case of Maori aged between 10 and 13 this is six times more likely."

Mr Flavell said there should be a review of the justice system.

"For many Maori it is unfair, it is biased, it is filled with prejudice and there is institutional racism in the justice system," he said.

Meanwhile, a United Nations working group is urging the Government to look into why Maori are unfairly treated in the criminal justice system.

The group has recommended a review be undertaken to the degree of inconsistencies and systemic bias against Maori at all levels of the criminal justice system.

NZN

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