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UN to NZ Human Rights – ‘can do better’

Written By: - Date published: 10:05 am, February 3rd, 2014 - 18 comments
Categories: child abuse, crime, democracy under attack, discrimination, john key, Judith Collins, Maori Issues, pasifika, poverty, sexism - Tags: ,

The latest report from the UN Human Rights Council shows the NZ government has been slacking off with respect to its protection of and support for the human rights of all Kiwis. (Draft report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review* New Zealand)  The government tried to gloss over some of the most worrying of the reports findings and recommendations.  It is particularly avoiding focusing on some of the deep seated underlying causes of discrimination and suffering.

nz human rights not for sale

Some like minister Judith Collins has talked up the government’s current legislative work.  She has tended to focus on punitive measures for offenders rather than on eliminating the damaging behaviours.  She also has tended to talk up the benefits of surveillance of criminal offenders, thus extending the reach of the surveillance state.

TV 3 News gave an overview of the report’s findings.

The international community has issued New Zealand more than 150 recommendations to improve its human rights record.

The recommendations, which come out of a United Nations meeting in Geneva, involve signing international conventions, reducing child poverty, minimising disparity between Maori and other New Zealanders and improving woman’s rights.


On Tuesday, the Law Society criticised Ms Collins’ national report for omitting “significant human rights issues in the New Zealand context”.

The society says the parliament’s use of urgency to push through laws and enactment of Bill of Rights-inconsistent legislation are key human rights issues.

On domestic violence, RNZ states:

The report said women and children are victims in the most severe cases of family violence, and men are responsible for two-thirds of the deaths of all children. Maori are over-represented both as perpetrators and victims.

domestic violence hurts all

Judith Collins reported responses to the poor report on domestic violence in NZ, focus on punishment while she only pays some limited and general lip service to prevention.  Radio NZ reports:

Justice Minister Judith Collins said the progress New Zealand is making in protecting women and children against violence is recognised internationally, but it is clear more work is needed.

She said the maximum penalty for breaching a protection order was last year increased from two to three years’ jail, and she was asking officials to explore the use of GPS and other technology to monitor people who breach protection orders.

However, on domestic violence the report asks for a focus on prevention and underlying causes. (The report takes a similar approach with respects to criticisms of NZ’s could-do-better record on ethnic discrimination, inequalities, and inter-related income inequalities and poverty).  The report

The UN draft report specifically says:

128.108. That the measures taken to reduce domestic violence be followed up, adapted and extended on solid empirical bases (Switzerland);

128.109. Improve the monitoring and evaluation of domestic violence  prevention programmes and agencies (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland);

128.110. Continue to strengthen measures and plans to address and effectively eradicate the causes of domestic violence against women, including training and capacity building programmes on human rights for civil servants of the State that address this issue (Chile);

128.111. Put in place a comprehensive policy against violence to slightly reduce domestic/family violence and protect vulnerable populations (Congo);

128.112. Further improve programmes that address violence against women and children (Germany);

128.113. Enlarge the scope of the White paper for Vulnerable Children and its Children’s Action Plan by taking into account the relationship between child abuse and contributing factors such as domestic violence and poverty (Slovenia);

Jan Logie of the Green Party  provides an overview:

The UN’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group issued 155 recommendations for New Zealand early this morning, many in relation to domestic violence and child poverty. This is up from only 64 recommendations at the last review of New Zealand.

25 of the recommendations related to women’s rights – particularly to equal pay and safety. 18 related to inequality and the socio-economic disparities that Maori, Pacific and minority communities suffer compared to other New Zealanders. 7 specifically refer to child poverty amongst many other important issues reflecting this Government’s failure to protect our rights.

Logie  summarises the key recommendations in the report, with respect to domestic violence and protection of children:

* Establish indicators to measure child poverty;

* Further strengthen and expand national action plans to reduce child poverty and that of their families;

* Speed up the rebuilding and compensation process in the aftermath of the Canterbury Earthquakes;

* Include economic, social and cultural rights Review in the Bill of Rights Act;

* Take concrete measures to ensure the implementation and promotion of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;

* Eliminate the gender pay gap;

* Put in place a national strategy to combat domestic violence;

* Continue combating and condemning racism and hate speech used by politicians as well as the expression of racism in the media, in particular discriminatory language and hate speech and the dissemination of racist ideas and languages;

* Make sure the Immigration Amendment Act will not create unfair discrimination;

* Continue its efforts to effectively implement the New Zealand Disability Strategy.

On human rights, NZ has been going backwards while Key’s government has been in power.


18 comments on “UN to NZ Human Rights – ‘can do better’”

  1. One Anonymous Knucklehead 1

    The Law Society? Fuck do they know about human rights with their expensive jackets?

    Entrench the BoRA, and issue the following statement:

    We take human rights abuses seriously. If any government employee is found to have breached human rights the next government will regard as a serious matter, and they will be referred to the police whether they were following National Party orders or not. We will provide protection from the National Party for any employee who refuses to obey such orders.

    • weka 1.1

      lolz @ jackets. I like the gist of your comment. Am curious how state employers would be protected from the National Party, and who the ‘we’ is in that sentence. Did you mean the Law Society?

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 1.1.1

        Nah, the Greens for example.

        Say, you rock up to work at WINZ, or wherever, and your manager tells you that the Minister wants you to do something that is in clear breach of the UDoHR. So you refuse, and you get fired (after a due process). Simply say that anyone in that situation will be compensated and reinstated, that the manager responsible will be disciplined.

        Then follow through. Entrench the BoRA. We can all think if plenty of examples where breaches of human rights were written into law and yet the defence of “I was just following orders” didn’t wash in The Hague.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead

          Further thought: the Aotearoa New Zealand Parliament is sovereign. If human rights abuses are not going to be outlawed by an Aoteroa New Zealand parliament that respects human rights, and made retrospective, then human rights change every time the National Party can form a government.

  2. miravox 2

    reporting of this report by the herald is a new low in spin, imo.

    No mention at all of the 155 recommendatiout to improve New Zealand’s “excellent” (according to Judith Collins) human rights record. Fantastic reception of the report she says.

  3. phil 3

    Only 155 recommendations! Excellent. Nothing here. Next!

  4. Tracey 4

    So between 2009 and this report national govt has guided us to a n additional 90 odd things to work on. An increase not a decrease.

    Pm says urgency record is low. True or false.

    • karol 4.1

      There are two aspects to the government’s abuse of urgency:

      1) the number of Bills rushed through the House under urgency
      2) When rushed through under urgency, the HRC recommendations can be sidelines or ignored, wthout the public necessarily being aware of what’s going on – and resulting in poor legislation.

      On #1) in 2011, both DPF, and Grant Robertson were critical of the number of Bills being rushed through under urgency.

      On #2, Andrew Geddis argues about some legislatio and the ways it overides HR issues, and results in laws with big holes in them.

      Also on #2 – Finlayson tries to argue against the Law Society’s submission, which said that the government was passing laws under urgency that did not meet with BORA requirements. Finlayson, though, is dancing on a pin. e says it’s all legal because they’ve used a loophole waiver saying the BORA doesn’t apply in the instance of the specific Bill/Act

      Mr Finlayson said that Section 7 notices, which are attached to legislation if they breach the Bill of Rights, did not prevent the passage of the law.

      “Some of the Society’s members may want an entrenched bill of rights allowing the courts to strike down laws made by a democratically elected Parliament. However, that is not the law of New Zealand under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.”

  5. blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 5

    If what Collins obfuscated was true – that breaches of protection orders were taken seriously – then those 2 children in Dunedin wouldn’t have been killed

    She said the maximum penalty for breaching a protection order was last year increased from two to three years’ jail, and she was asking officials to explore the use of GPS and other technology to monitor people who breach protection orders.

    Note the use of the words “maximum penalty”

    Fat lot of good that ‘increase’ had for the mother who has tragically lost her two children.

    The Judge showed more concern for the killer-to-be’s livelihood, than the safety of the mother and childrens’ lives.

  6. adam 6

    Going out on a limb and expecting to be bashed – but I don’t really like the Surfs telling me to do anything. Who are these smurfs anyway and why are they better than the corporations they work with? Some of these Surfs are not so pretty dictatorships and they criticize us? Surfs are not to be trusted, we would do better to make our own agendas, aspirations and determine our own way.

    • McFlock 6.1

      before bashing… wtf are surfs? I know what smurfs are, but it seems like you’re dropping jargon that I’ve never heard before?

    • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 6.2

      @ Adam

      I view your questions as important and they certainly have relevance – in this day and age of groups amongst groups being infiltrated by corporate interests.

      However, reading between the lines your comment – I do wonder how you think there would ever be a situation where we simply all made ‘our own way’ with no collective groups involved?

      I am making assumptions here that this is what you are implying by your comment.

      How are ‘organisational’ groups avoided?

      Because as I understand it – these collective groups – both governing bodies and ‘watchdog’ groups will always develop when people live in collective situations. This dual aspect develops, of governance vs watchdog groups and is necessary to ensure society does not have the concentration of power in any one group – that way corruption is bypassed.

      At present, however, the absolute necessity to avoid ‘concentration of power’ is being completely and utterly ignored – because the concentration of power by a few very wealthy people and groups is not being addressed. Part of this problem is that the ‘governing’ group keeps getting criticised and the ‘corporate’ group’s influence ignored.

      • adam 6.2.1

        Smurfs = UN – in particular the blue helmets peacekeepers.

        blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) is see groups/groupings are fine, just question whose interest they represent! Hence why I said, who is the UN in bed with, who do they really represent? And global watch dogs are going to embrace some idea many here might not be comfortable with – for example cosmopolitanism. It’s not like the organisations involved with the UN – the World Bank and IMF have been institutions for good. I’d even go as far to say many aspects of the UN give me the shits, and it would have been way worse if not for Peter Fraser, but even his attempt to curb the excesses of the powerful over the weak, have fallen by the wayside.

        • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill)

          Yes, I certainly share some of your concerns.

          It is good, though, to acknowledge when that group is coming out and lending weight to good causes though.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead

          Adam, do you have any substantive rebuttal of any of the points the “Smurfs” have made? How about the Law Society?

          Because all I can see is you shooting the messenger.

          • adam

            I liked what the law society said. BUT.

            Essentially what I’m saying is, be careful of strangers, with other agendas, bearing gifts.

  7. Murray Olsen 7

    While Teina Pora still rots in prison, none of us have our human rights guaranteed. Even once he’s out, while we pay for an American spy agency paid by us to delete information on a case which goes to the heart of our sovereignty, the situation will be unchanged. And so on…… Only 155 recommendations? The UN can do better.

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