Law could sully NZ's human rights record

Last updated 05:00 12/03/2011

Relevant offers

Politics

Labour leader Andrew Little still supports SAS inquiry despite Defence Force rebuttal Sue Allen: Nicky Hager's PR victory Ann Beaglehole: What do John Key and Nicky Hager have in common? A fresh look at SAS claims is in the national interest Defence admits to possible civilian casualties in Afghan raid - but still says authors' book wrong Ella Lawton hopes to fulfil mother's dying wish to take her place on Otago Regional Council Chinese Premier Li rejects steel dumping claim, cites larger NZ dairy exports Bill English says SAS inquiry unlikely after Defence Force attacks Hit and Run 'inaccuracies' Damning Afghanistan war report criticises lack of planning for NZ deployment Defence Force chief slams 'major inaccuracies' in SAS Afghanistan allegations

The three-strikes legislation and stripping prisoners of the right to vote breach human rights and could result in New Zealand being hauled before international agencies, a watchdog says.

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres is concerned about the legislation, which was introduced last year. It would disproportionately affect Maori, he said.

The Human Rights Commission's annual Race Relations Report also highlights the high number of Maori in prison and said reducing the muster should be a priority.

"We've drawn attention to these because it is relatively unusual for these things to arise. Generally the New Zealand Parliament has a strong regard for human rights.

"We have to very careful in the area of criminal justice because there is an unequal representation in terms of the people arrested, convicted and imprisoned," Mr de Bres said.

The laws would probably come to the attention of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and other organisations, he said. And although there are no "enforceable sanctions" this would be embarrassing for the New Zealand Government. "The Government isn't obliged to take any notice, but it is obliged to take it seriously."

But he does not believe the legislation reflects a growing trend of new laws that crush civil rights. The "critical issues" concern social and economic inequalities between ethnic groups which are "unacceptably high".

The three-strikes law means a 25-year non-parole sentence for the worst criminals after their third serious offence.

Ad Feedback

- The Dominion Post

Special offers
Opinion poll

Should the speed limit be raised to 110kmh on some roads?

Yes

No

Vote Result

Related story: 110kmh limit moves closer

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content