UN Human Rights Committee picks up key issues

So far, the National Government has gotten off fairly lightly following a critical report on its record by the UN Human Rights Committee released last weekend.

The issue most covered was the Committee’s recommendation that our government ‘should consider relinquishing the use of Tasers’ because of the ‘severe pain’ and injuries they cause. I was quoted in the media as saying that we ‘should take heed of this esteemed international body’ but Police Minister Judith Collins simply joined in the Police Association’s bashing of the UN Committee. It was good to see the Maori Party back the

UN Committee on Tasers in Parliament yesterday

. Half of the Kiwis tasered have been Maori.

Prime TV picked up another Committee recommendation and interviewed me on the Committee’s criticism of the weak status of our Bill of Rights Act 1990 (BORA), and the way laws pass through our Parliament even when the Attorney-General says they are not consistent with the Act. Just this month Paula Bennett’s Social Assistance bill received a negative Bill of Rights audit from the Attorney-General for its discrimination against certain categories of beneficiaries, like those on the DPB. But the Bill has just gone through Parliament in urgency, with its discriminatory provisions unaddressed.

If you want a fuller picture of the UN Committee’s critique of our human rights record you can go directly

to the report


The Green Party welcomes the Committee’s suggestions to improve the lot of asylum seekers – namely that they should not be detained with convicted prisoners, or sent to supposedly ‘safe third countries’ from where they could be returned to their persecutors. The UN Committee is helping redress the balance in favour of asylum seekers, who are often treated as political football in this country.

“The Terrorism Suppression Act has rightly come in for a bit of stick, because it lacks a provision to challenge terrorist designations. The committee is also on the mark in asking if rights were violated in the October 2007 ‘anti-terrorism’ raids and why there has been such a huge delay in any resulting trial.

“The Committee also makes pertinent comments on the need to address low participation of women in high-level business positions, and ‘the over-representation of Maori, in particular Maori women, in prisons’.

All in all, it is a good morale boost for the Green Party on some key issues we’ve been challenging National and Labour governments for some years.