Human rights in New Zealand in 2017

Human rights are universal. Everyone has them and everyone should respect other people’s human rights. In a year where the plate tectonics of global politics was stood on its head a smorgasbord of crises, institutionalized failure to comprehend what was going to happen, meant 2016 has been one of the more unpredictable years in human rights.

So, in short here are a few of the human rights issues facing New Zealand in 2017.

In women’s rights, especially around protection from domestic and sexual violence, New Zealand has significant work to do. The legal frame work does a poor job protecting victims from the violence. Just as unacceptable is how we came as a nation to be a stage where some sectors of society still shrug it off as not being relevant to them when it is relevant to all. For a country that was first to grant women the vote, this is rather disturbing.

Despite 2 years on the United Nations Security Council and doing some very good work in the latter half, regarding Syria and more recently Palestine, New Zealand will have departed its seat wondering about what could have been. It is true that P5 members at one point tried to stall for a time whilst a new plan was worked out for Israel/Palestine.

It also needs to be said that New Zealand’s silence on Saudi Arabia’s bombing of Yemeni school’s, hospitals and residential areas has caused as many – if not more – civilian casualties did not go unnoticed. Saudi Arabia wishes to trade with New Zealand, but on terms that it considers friendly.

A perception exists that there has been excessive use of “Parliament Urgency” in passing legislation. “Parliamentary Urgency” is used to expedite a new Bill of Parliament that is needed to replace legislation either about to expire or criminal costs. The statistics showed that the Government used Parliament more in its first two years in office than the full nine years of the Labour Government of former Prime Minister Helen Clark. Parliamentary urgency continues to record being used,

Despite priding itself as a refugee  friendly nation, New Zealand is still to increase its quota from 750 to 1,500. In failing to do so it has argued similar arguments to other nations that have developed a sudden intolerance for refugees because of fears of being swamped by migrants as they come off a fish. Many of the reasons given are contrary to the facts. A good example I  as refugees can become tax payers after a few years and because they are being given a second chance they will generally be very good workers; active contributors to New Zealand society.


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