UPDATE: Our watchdogs are so underfunded they can’t afford teeth

By   /   January 26, 2018  /   13 Comments

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…the Human Rights Review Tribunal is the only mechanism open to citizens of NZ to hold the Police (and the State) to account for their abuses of power. The Independent Police Conduct Authority only has the power to recommend or suggest resolutions, the HRRT can force the Police to comply.

David Fisher from the NZ Herald has added to my story TDB published earlier this week regarding the Human Rights Review Tribunal not having the funding to actually prosecute cases of abuse against  the Police and State…

Huge delays at Human Rights Tribunal as cases pile up

A tribunal set up to hear breaches of human rights has become so overworked and underfunded it can’t even schedule a phone conference to plan a hearing, according to an email sent by a staff member.

The amount of work handled by the Human Rights Review Tribunal has doubled over two years even though funding and staffing levels remain the same.

It has meant huge delays for those bringing complaints of discrimination, harassment and privacy breaches.

And for those who have brought cases, the Herald has learned of two that have had a three-year delay in having decisions delivered.

Associate Justice Minister Aupito William Sio told the Herald: “I am very conscious of the increase in workload being faced by the Human Rights Review Tribunal and have been briefed by the Ministry of Justice.”

He said there were two law changes heading for Parliament – both introduced when National was in power – but recognised more needed to be done.

“I am actively considering other ways to address the issues being faced by the tribunal”.

It can’t come soon enough for those who have taken complaints to the tribunal seeking prosecutions of those they claim had breached their rights.

Activist and blogger Martyn Bradbury said he was stunned to receive an email from a tribunal staff member telling him that it had no idea when his case against the police would progress.

He had been seeking a telephone conference with the tribunal and police to schedule the next steps in his case after police were found to have unlawfully accessed his data during the hunt for the Rawshark hacker.

The email sent to Bradbury stated: “The timing of a case management teleconference will depend entirely on the resources which the Government makes available to the tribunal.

“At the present time no accurate estimate can be given as to when a teleconference will be convened.”

Bradbury filed his case with the tribunal midway through last year after finding police had unlawfully accessed his banking information, citing “computer fraud”. The police inquiry appeared to have led to credit applications by Bradbury being handled and then rejected by the bank’s fraud unit.

Bradbury, who said he had nothing to do with the Rawshark hack, said the financial stress caused by the rejected application had huge mental health repercussions.

“The stress of all this, the sense of these ‘invisible hands’ moving against me, culminated in severe depression and self harm with two suicidal episodes at the end of 2016.”

He said the tribunal offered a chance to restore the damage done and the delay “gnaws away at you”.

“It is frustrating. This is the only avenue to hold police to account.”

Barrister Simon Judd, who takes prosecutions on behalf of the Director of Human Rights Proceedings before the tribunal, said the workload had led to delays which were frustrating.

“It can be very frustrating for the clients and they are waiting months or even years for a judgment. That’s pretty unacceptable.”

…the Human Rights Review Tribunal is the only mechanism open to citizens of NZ to hold the Police (and the State) to account for their abuses of power. The Independent Police Conduct Authority only has the power to recommend or suggest resolutions, the HRRT can force the Police to comply.

In my case, the Police have used huge loopholes to trawl the private information of thousands of NZers and put that taken information onto the NZ Police intelligence computer which is open to half a dozen other agencies without one warrant signed.

That we are in a situation where the only Tribunal in the land that can hold the Police and wider State to account is so underfunded that it can’t prosecute cases is an abomination to everything we should believe regardless of whether you are right wing or left wing.

I refuse point blank to allow the Police to get away with this level of mass surveillance abuse against me our my fellow New Zealanders.

 

UPDATE: The Associate Minister for Courts and Justice has reached out to me personally via Twitter with the following…

…I am meeting with MPs next week and will have an update on the latest after that.

 

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13 Comments

  1. CLEANGREEN says:

    Hi martyn;

    Yes to that; – so as government want the upper hand in all things;

    The government is advised by their “experts” to roll back the effectiveness of opposition to any changes they wish to make, and request to cutting budgets that give the people a strong legal case through legal means.

    So the government will take the easy route to stymie our voices and our democratic voice to be heard.

    We are just playthings for their ego it seems.

  2. Michelle says:

    purposely underfunded by the gnats this is not good enough

  3. CLEANGREEN says:

    100% MICHELLE;

    National have purposely underfunded every agency we have to reduce our ability to legally fight for changes against their autocratic crass criminal enterprise.

    National equals cruel crimes against the people.

  4. Helena says:

    Police enforce the dictates of the Government. Nothing more nothing less. They do not exist for us, the people.

    • Sam Sam says:

      It must be assumed that any government agent or agency that can not explain an asset that is outside of the salary that that official is corrupted. The burden of prof must them fall on the accused to justify unusual so ending.

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      LOL Helena.

  5. Helena says:

    Police enforce the dictates of the Government. Nothing more nothing less. They do not exist for us, the people. Police control on behalf of the controllers.

  6. Rosemary McDonald says:

    Martyn,

    It is my understanding that the funding for the Human Rights Commission, the Human Rights Review Tribunal and the Office of Human Rights Proceedings was frozen, and maybe reduced around about the time of the May 2010 budget. I could be wrong, but maybe someone with more time could look into this?

    No coincidence this fiscal strangling of our Human Rights watchdog that it happened shortly after this, http://www.nzlii.org/nz/cases/NZHRRT/2010/1.html and the following two successful court cases….all won resoundingly by the team from the OHRP.

    After this….http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2013/0022/latest/whole.html Those of us who had trusted the HRC when we had been told that the outcome of Atkinson would apply to us were bitterly disappointed….although the OHRP kept in touch.

    After this…https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/68270809/court-says-carer-of-disabled-adult-can-sue-for-compensation the door opened a crack for those of us shut out by the 2013 legislation and a small group of us will be heading to the High Court early next year seeking compensation.

    We are represented by the Office of Human Rights Proceedings.

    National responded to the OHRP winning this case against the Ministry of Health and Crown Law with viciousness and vindictiveness.

  7. Marc says:

    David Fisher, one of the few journalists we have left, who know how to point the finger on where the truth needs to be exposed.

    This is scandalous, but has there been an increase in claims to the HRRT? I would not be surprised, given the rough shooting in public administration that became the new normal.

    More mean spirited government agencies lead to more complaints.

    Also have other so called ‘watch dogs’ had significant increases in complaints over recent years. Some say it is due to people being more happy to lay complaints, I argue, there are more issues that deserve to be raised and addressed, as people feel treated unfairly and short changed. Hence the increase in complaints.

    We had the same with the Ombudsman under Beverley Wakem, under funding and so forth. They now have new procedures, a bit more funding, but also throw more complaints out, as not worthy to investigate, or refer them to other review panels.

    With a growing population all these offices and hearing institutions need more funding, but National kept them tightly controlled, so Labour and NZ First and Greens are challenged now to deliver, come on, invest a bit more into all these necessary review institutions, please.

  8. Marc says:

    PROTESTS IN NZ ARE NOT CONSIDERED FAVOURABLE ACTIVITIES:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGwhQNCYMvA

  9. Marc says:

    Martyn and Kim, GCSB protest, I was there:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhlPqaLCvIE