Human Rights in New Zealand

7 April 2015, 12:15 UTC | New Zealand
Asylum Seekers Protest. Wellington NZ, 2013 © Amnesty International

New Zealand prides itself on being a leader in human rights. We made a stand on nuclear testing, same-sex marriage and apartheid. Yet there is inadequate protection of human rights under New Zealand law.

Like every country, New Zealand is obliged under international law to ensure we are safe and protected. This means New Zealand must ensure any new laws and policies do not breach this obligation and that there are safeguards within the legislative process. For example, new laws should always be checked against the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.

The problem is that the Bill of Rights Act only protects half of our rights - our civil and political rights. These include the right to things like voting and fair trials. Many of our other human rights - such as as the right to adequate housing and access to healthcare - are not contained in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. 

Since 2008, the Human Rights Commission has also recorded over 70 Bills passed under urgency. This means that experts like Amnesty International have limited opportunity to comment on how these laws will impact our human rights.

We believe that ALL rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights deserve equal recognition. This is why we call for all our human rights to be made into law. We also want to prevent legislation being rushed through parliament to ensure human rights are taken into account when laws and policies are developed.

Read our latest submissions >> 

Did you know...?

In 1948 New Zealand lobbied to ensure “freedom from want” was alongside rights such as freedom of speech and freedom from torture within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

In 1968 New Zealand signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and ratified it 10 years later. But these rights have never been explicitly incorporated into the New Zealand Bill of Rights

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