Kris Gledhill book launch: Human Rights Acts: The Mechanisms Compared

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Join us in celebrating the launch of Kris Gledhill’s new book:

HUMAN RIGHTS ACTS: THE MECHANISMS COMPARED

  •  Date: Tuesday 31 March
  • Time: 5.30-7pm
  • Venue: Law Student Centre, Level 2, Building 810, 1-10 Short Street
  • Wine and canapés will be served to celebrate.
  • RSVP: Khylee Quince – k.quince@auckland.ac.nz by Monday 30th March

The aim of this book is to consider the jurisprudence that has developed in these various jurisdictions relating to these mechanics for the promotion of human rights. Relevant case law from countries that have a constitutional approach, such as Canada, South Africa and the United States, is also featured. Chapters cover such matters as the choice between a constitutional and non-constitutional bill of rights, the different approaches adopted as to how legislators are alerted to possible breaches of fundamental rights as Bills progress, the extent of the interpretive obligation, the consequences of failing to reach a rights-compliant interpretation, the remedies available in litigation and any alternatives to litigation.

The book is aimed at practitioners and also at academics and policy makers.

On Human Rights Day, Twenty Seconds on the UDHR, Eleanor Roosevelt, and NZ’s role in the Declaration

Eleanor Roosevelt holding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948

Human Rights Day is observed by the international community every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day in 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While Eleanor Roosevelt is rightly lauded for her leadership, New Zealand played a key role in ensuring that economic, social and cultural rights received due attention in the UDHR alongside civil and political rights:

“Experience in New Zealand has taught us that the assertion of the right of personal freedom is incomplete unless it is related to the social and economic rights of the common man. There can be no difference of opinion as to the tyranny of privation and want. There is no dictator more terrible than hunger.” (Delegation member, Dr Colin Aikman, on behalf of New Zealand, UN, 1948).

When the General Assembly adopted the Declaration, with 48 states in favour and eight abstentions, it was proclaimed as a “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations”, towards which individuals and societies should “strive by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance”. The Declaration with its broad range of political, civil, social, cultural and economic rights inspired more than 60 human rights instruments which together constitute an international standard of human rights. Today the general consent of all United Nations Member States on the basic Human Rights laid down in the Declaration makes it even stronger and emphasises the relevance of Human Rights in our daily lives.

HRF Joint Statement with Amnesty and others opposing urgency on Terrorist Fighters legislation

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A joint statement by over 20 organisations has been delivered to all political parties highlighting concerns with the Government’s proposed Foreign Fighters Bill.

A broad coalition of New Zealand’s leading academics and human rights, legal and migrant organisations today called on the Government to delay the passage of its proposed anti-terror laws to allow more comprehensive

Following the release of the Select Committee report, the 20-plus organisations highlighted major concerns with the Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014, which the Government is currently attempting to rush through Parliament. The joint statement was delivered to Attorney-General Chris Finlayson and all political parties this morning.

A diverse range of groups and individuals, including the Human Rights Lawyers Association, the Human Rights Foundation of Aotearoa New Zealand, Amnesty International New Zealand and the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand, have disputed the Government’s claims that the Bill is compatible with New Zealand’s human rights obligations.

“Human security is a human right”, said Peter Hosking, Chairperson of the Human Rights Foundation of Aotearoa New Zealand, “and the government has an important duty to protect the community from terrorism. Laws can legitimately limit the rights of individuals for the purpose of countering security threats, but these limitations must be both necessary and proportionate.” he said.

“The United Nations Security Council (to which New Zealand was recently elected) has, in Resolution 2178, made clear that any measures taken to ensure such protection must also comply with all of the state’s other human rights obligations, including those relating to fair trials and due process and the rights to privacy, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement.”

The coalition of organisations and experts are highlighting several key concerns with the Bill, including a failure to justify the measures and the expansion of surveillance powers. However, they are particularly concerned about the urgency with which this Bill is being rushed through Parliament.

“By failing to provide adequate time for consultation by experts and others, the Government is denying the opportunity for proper scrutiny and robust debate as to whether the proposals are indeed consistent with New Zealand’s obligations under international law,” said Amanda Brydon, Advocacy Manager at Amnesty International.

“In particular, the Government already has the power under the Passports Act to suspend passports for a year. There is no need for the urgency under which the measures are being enacted.”

“Countering terrorism strategies will not be successful if human rights are not respected and protected.”

Amnesty International: Government must allow further scrutiny of Countering Terrorist Fighters Bill

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AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

PRESS RELEASE

27 November 2014

Government must allow further scrutiny of Countering Terrorist Fighters Bill

As the New Zealand government seeks to rush new through new anti-terror legislation, Amnesty International is raising grave concerns over the speed at which the Bill is being rushed through Parliament and is calling for an extension to the consultation period.

“Slamming through legislation in such a short timeframe puts hard won and fundamental human rights at risk. It is a blow to the foundations of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements,” said Amanda Brydon, Advocacy Manager at Amnesty International.

“It is dangerous to rush through such measures without proper consultation, careful, thoughtful analysis is needed, not fast-tracking and grandstanding.”

While the Government has an important role in the protection of New Zealand from threats to national security, it has a responsibility to always uphold the very values and freedoms it is trying to defend. To do this it must ensure that any anti-terror protection measures are consistent with international human rights standards, something that has not been adequately done with the current bill.

The cancellation of passports and the increased surveillance of individuals, including circumstances where a warrant is not required, constitutes a fundamental interference with a range of human rights, including the rights to privacy, freedom of expression and freedom of movement.

These are just two of a number of questions Amnesty International and others have around the Bill.

Amnesty International also questions the Government’s justification that the legislation is being introduced to meet obligations as set out by a United Nations Security Council resolution to address foreign fighters.

“The same resolution also clearly states that governments must comply with their obligations under international law – including international human rights law – and that failure to do so contributes to radicalisation,” said Amanda Brydon.

“By only allowing 48 hours for consultation by experts and others, the Government is not allowing the opportunity for proper scrutiny and the ability to robustly discuss whether the proposals are indeed consistent with our obligations under international law.  The Security Council resolution should not be used to justify the haste with which this bill is being rushed through the consultation process.”

-ENDS-

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