GUEST BLOG: Arthur Taylor: New Zealand in Breach of International Law – Again!


As the first country in the world to give women the vote (1893), the state housing, social security and health care programmes of the ‘30s and ‘40s, pulling more than its weight in international affairs, including with the United Nations, New Zealand built up a well-deserved legacy as a country that promoted social equality and respect for human rights.

Murray McCully, Tim Groser and John Key, when they strut the world stage, regularly trade on that reputation.  Unfortunately, as those of us on the coalface of human rights and social equality (along with an ever-increasing number of ordinary Kiwis) can attest, that legacy has been squandered – most notably by Roger Douglas, Richard Prebble, Michael Bassett, Jenny Shipley and many others, including the Key government.  The country’s financial wellbeing has been put at grave long-term risk as well.  When John Key came to power in 2008, the New Zealand government owed about $10 billion.  It now owes over $60 billion.

It seems that every indicator of a stable, prosperous, well society has been going down for years – e.g. home ownership is at its lowest since 1951.  In the area of human rights, there has been a dramatic increase in recent years in the Courts finding the government has breached fundamental human rights.  My recent victory in the prisoner voting case was the first time the High Court has declared Parliament itself has breached the Bill of Rights, our bedrock human rights document.

These findings cause real concern.  Strangely, these decisions, which should be ringing alarm bells, receive little mainstream media attention.  One wonders why!  The UN Human Rights Commission Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recently (17 June 2015) (21/2015) released a Communication that it sent to the government on 22 January 2015 .  Paragraph 21 of the  december 2014  CCPR General Comment  from which it was reproduced  makes alarming reading.  It is established in New Zealand and international law that once a prisoner has served the punishment/deterrent part of their sentence (in New Zealand the non-parole part, set by law at 1/3 of the sentence unless increased by the sentencing judge), then the rest of the sentence should be focused on rehabilitation.

The Working Group makes the point that:

“international law requires that conditions in such detention… must be distinct from the conditions for convicted prisoners serving a punitive sentence.”


“the detention must be aimed at the detainee’s rehabilitation/reintegration into society.” 

Rehabilitation is of course vitally important to reduce reoffending (less reoffending, less victims).  It enables some of the $2,000 the taxpayer is paying for each prisoner every week to be diverted to something useful, like education and health in the community.  Oh, did I forget to mention, the Working Group found New Zealand to be in breach of that requirement – so yet another black mark against New Zealand, unfortunately.


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Arthur Taylor is a prisoner rights activist and current prisoner. 


    • The way things are going, we will all get our chance soon enough. New Zealand voters are so desperate to sell their souls and rights away for the chains of corporate fascism, that they can’t even see they are being marched off a cliff. NZ is rapidly turning into a poor man’s Singapore, and the price of corporate fascism is no real democracy.

  1. Living in New Zealand is like being a political prisoner, as the government spies on you, ignores concerns, and tramples everyone it doesn’t like or stands in its way. In this way it is worse than the US, as at least it has more than one branch to vote for, whereas NZ gets stuck with the legislative tyranny of one party for three years plus.

    • If you don’t like it, try North Korea.

      The mere fact that you can post this nonsense here without retribution shows how wrong you are.

      • @ Andrew … Oh.

        Logical fallacy . Thanks for a most excellent example of yet another one. Love and hugs xx .

        • Kinda cute in a way. Seems in Andrew’s world only North Korea has political prisoners or political repression, despite the anti-democratic and authoritarian shock therapy still in use today by western and non-western governments.

          Though doubt you are going to become a critical thinker and read the brilliant book by Naomi Klein entitled ‘The Shock Doctrine’.

  2. I spent many years in Canada as a kiwi and they have at least more compassion within their Government that Key’s Government lacks completely, and I feel ashamed and dirty now Keyster has dragged us down into the depth of servitude to corporatocracy as enslaved prisoners of his twisted mindless rampage over our fading democracy.

    It is time for a revolution and we need an inspiring new leader to take us there before this country will be another Syria.

    • Yep, John Key has restarted the race to the bottom. He wants NZ to become as unequal and divided as America, that means lower wages or working conditions, and attacks on the welfare system. ‘Job Seekers’ is a term used in the states to describe their crap welfare system that John Key wants for NZ. You can see where National gets its ideas from.

    • Cleengreen I cant for the life of me see why John Key with all his lies and downright corrupt behaviour is still in power.
      The Governor General is in his pocket as is the Speaker and msm and all the law enforcers.For sure not all mps are as stupid as Keys sniggering front bench cohorts, what has he got on the decent mps that they follow his lead.
      This country is in the hands of a corrupt outfit and its scary to know what next.Key has gotten away with a big list of offences that any other PM would not have. Who is going to take action on his continued

    • Sadly Canada has an even more far right government than New Zealand now. For example, it is now against the law to wear a mask when protesting in Canada.

  3. New Zealand people remind me of the TV advertisement with all the lemmings jumping over the cliff?

    Why are the NZ Public so madly in love with John Key, Mike Hoskings and Ritchie McCaw, we are turning into a cult like culture?

    Maybe Crosby Textor have something to do with it?

    • John,Mike, and Ritchie are three of the most loveable people in New Zealand.

      Nothing to do with Crosby Textor, just sheer animal magnetism.

  4. And once again you’re all off topic!

    It doesn’t take long does it?

    And while the name calling drags on, prisoners in NZ/Aotearoa are still treated in breach of the UN.

    Since you all love gaoling people at the drop of a hat you might want to pay attention to this tiny little insignificant detail…

    This country is actually in breach of a signed legal commitment.

    Do something about it!

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