Amnesty International statement on COVID Legislation Bill

24 November 2021, 09:57 UTC |

Amnesty International is urging the Government to rethink its approach to passing the COVID-19 Response (Vaccination) Legislation Bill due to serious concerns about the lack of opportunity for public consultation and scrutiny.

We have previously raised concerns about the lack of human rights scrutiny with the Government’s COVID-19 response, especially when introducing new legislation. Adequate scrutiny, particularly for mandatory measures, is essential for both enduring and effective people-centred solutions, as well as maintaining the rule of law.

“We are deeply concerned to see limited scrutiny of yet another piece of legislation with significant human rights implications.”  

Lisa Woods, Campaigns Director, Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand

Amnesty International encourages the Government to place human rights at the centre of all aspects of its response. Rushing through law is not the way to ensure appropriate safeguards, especially when that legislation limits human rights.

We welcome the Government’s recognition of the need to pursue robust, crucial measures that urgently stop the spread of COVID-19. The Government has an obligation to protect the rights to health and life. However any limitations on human rights must meet the principles of legality, legitimacy, necessity and proportionality, and non-discrimination. Evidence of this must be transparent and open to the public.

The Government needs to ensure the Bill includes a range of safeguards, including a clear aim and justification, a specified and limited timeframe, and precise wording on how it will be implemented.