AUCKLAND, EARTH — Policy changes within the United Earth Ministry for Justice may force the closure of the Federation Penal Settlement in New Zealand.
The Ministry today announced a series of proposed organizational changes to Earth’s corrections system, which could come into effect as early as next year. One of the changes requires that all correctional institutions on Earth, Luna and Mars be operated directly by the Justice Ministry and subordinate to the laws and regulations of United Earth. If enacted, facilities out of compliance with the regulation would either be required to turn over their operations to the planetary government, or face involuntary closure.
Justice Ministry ombudsperson Yu Xiùlán said the intent of the changes is to “ensure that all persons in corrective rehabilitation on this planet are treated equally, and subject to the same laws.”
A total of six institutions would be affected, the most notable being the minimum security penal settlement on New Zealand’s North Island, which is operated by the United Federation of Planets under an agreement with United Earth. The agreement, in place since 2346, allows the Federation unrestricted use of the area “for whatever purpose within the law as it sees fit.” By changing its policy, the Justice Ministry is attempting to render the Federation’s purpose illegal.
While United Earth maintains the changes are necessary to protect the rights of prisoners, the Federation Attorney-General’s Office disagrees. “This is simply another example of Earth attempting to flex its political muscles,” said Deputy Attorney-General Virita zh’Ivathos. “The United Earth Government cannot unilaterally change the status of the New Zealand Penal Settlement by legislation or by executive action.”
The agreement establishing the settlement requires that amendments must be agreed to by both the Earth Parliament and the Federation Council for the first 100 years, after which either side can withdraw by providing the other a notice period of two years. Earth’s Justice Ministry appeared unconcerned by the apparent legal restriction.
“If the Federation does not comply before the changes go into effect,” said Ombudsperson Yu, “it will have abandoned the agreement by continuing to operate a facility on Earth in violation of the law.”
Earth’s status as the Federation’s capital has led to numerous disputes over legal jurisdiction and planetary sovereignty since the Federation was founded in 2161. Historically, these disagreements have tended to be resolved in the Federation’s favor.
The Attorney-General’s Office stated it considered the dispute a non-issue. “The New Zealand Penal Settlement has been a shining example of the Federation’s enlightened belief in rehabilitation for 46 years,” said Deputy Attorney-General zh’Ivathos, “and will undoubtedly be so for many more to come.”
Among the settlement’s current population are former members of the Maquis, an armed rebellious organization which opposed the Federation–Cardassian Treaty of 2370. The continued imprisonment of former Maquis, nearly two decades after the organization was extinguished by the Dominion, has been the subject of ongoing debate.
Last year, a successor organization calling itself Maquis Reborn occupied a joint Federation–Cardassian space station in the Menthar Corridor. Among its objectives was the release of all Maquis prisoners.
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