Amnesty International is urging the New Zealand Government to walk the talk on human rights in advance of its four-yearly review before the UN Human Rights Committee in January.
In a submission to the UN on New Zealand’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), Amnesty International welcomed a variety of initiatives that have sought to tackle key domestic human rights issues since the last review in 2014, including policies on gender-based violence and children’s wellbeing.
However, a range of areas are still concerning, including economic and social rights, young people detained in police cells and systematic bias against Māori, particularly women and youth, in the criminal justice system.
“New Zealand is known on the world stage for taking a strong human rights stance. However, we must not be complacent about human rights for our people. There are areas of real and ongoing concern,” said Annaliese Johnston, Advocacy and Policy Manager at Amnesty International New Zealand.
“New Zealanders are quite shocked when they hear 14 and 15 year olds are held in police cells for several nights, or that our country is in breach of international law by keeping mentally unwell people in seclusion,” said Johnston.
“We are a comparably wealthy and democratic country. It’s important that our leaders follow through on protecting human rights for all.”
Amnesty International has made a range of recommendations for the early 2019 UPR review, based on its concerns and those raised by others in the civil society and non-governmental sectors.
“This is a prime opportunity to look at New Zealand’s record, address these issues and commit to further improvements. We have the potential to be a place where all people enjoy their rights equally and live in dignity. It’s within our reach,” said Johnston.