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HomeAus & NZVolunteer devotes more than 40 years fighting for justice for Lake Alice...

Volunteer devotes more than 40 years fighting for justice for Lake Alice victims

'Quick read' news summary

By Leighton Keith of

A volunteer researcher who worked tirelessly for more than 40 years to bring to light the abuse at Lake Alice hopes the victims will finally get justice for the neglect, terror, fear and torment they suffered.

In 2019, Victor Boyd, of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights New Zealand, helped former patient Paul Zentveld make a complaint to the United Nations (UN) Convention Against Torture, which led to New Zealand’s Royal Commission into Abuse in Care Inquiry.

Boyd was introduced to Zentveld in 2005 and is listed as his “counsel” in the complaint to the UN.

He first began investigating the allegations in 1977 into treatment at the hospital unit in Manawatū-Whanganui, where former patients had described an atmosphere of intense fear.

Zentveld was 14 when he was first admitted to the hospital’s child and adolescent wing in the 1970s, where he was subjected to electro-convulsive therapy, drugged, and placed in solitary confinement.

The UN’s committee against torture upheld the complaint and recommended the government conduct a “prompt, impartial and independent investigation” into all allegations of torture and ill-treatment at the unit, run by psychiatrist Dr Selwyn Leeks.

Last week, the commission’s 500-page report was released which detailed the sexual, physical, emotional and psychological abuse and torture of survivors of the Rangitīkei facility’s adolescent unit.

The findings came as no surprise to Boyd, who gave evidence to the inquiry.

“I thought that the level of detail, documented into what went on there was accurate and very good. They had done a really good job of detailing how complaints were not taken up and information was not being shared,” Boyd said.

“It was very gratifying to see after all of this time.”

No recommendations for change have been made so far, but

A volunteer researcher who worked tirelessly for more than 40 years to bring to light the abuse at Lake Alice hopes the victims will finally get justice for the neglect, terror, fear and torment they suffered. Boyd was introduced to Zentveld in 2005 and is listed as his "counsel" in the complaint to the UN. They had done a really good job of detailing how complaints were not taken up and information was not being shared," Boyd said.

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