The Labour Party has complained to the United Nations over the continuing denial of democratic elections for Environment Canterbury (ECan) councillors.
“The National government took away the right of Canterbury people to elect councillors on ECan and in doing so denied them their democratic rights contrary to international agreements we are party to,” Labour MP for Port Hills Ruth Dyson says.
Two important UN treaties, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, confirm that it is a human right that citizens have a say on the running of their country and take part in the conduct of public affairs.
“The National government has shown it has no concern for the democratic rights of people here because they didn’t just take away the right to elect regional council members once, they’ve done it twice and there is nothing stopping them doing it again.
“When your own government trashes the democratic rights of its people, there aren’t many places to go to seek redress, but the Human Rights committee of the UN is a place we can go to get the issue investigated, hence the letter written by my colleague and Labour’s Justice spokesperson Andrew Little.
“Democracy is sometimes inconvenient, especially to those in power, but that’s the point. It is the basis of ensuring the interests of the powerful don’t ride roughshod over the powerless.
“Labour will return the right of Canterbury people to elect their regional councillors immediately, but in the meantime it will help to have an independent external body judge whether our international rights have been breached,” Ruth Dyson said.