Prisoner Rights Blogger wins for Human Rights


Congratulations to TDB Blogger Arthur Taylor and this astounding win in the Supreme Court…

Supreme Court upholds decision saying ban on prisoner voting inconsistent with Bill of Rights
Denying New Zealand’s prisoners the right to vote is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights, the country’s highest court has ruled.

The Supreme Court released its decision today upholding an earlier High Court decision and saying the courts had jurisdiction to make a “declaration of inconsistency”.

A majority of the five Supreme Court judges, comprising Chief Justice Sian Elias, Justice Susan Glazebrook and Justice Ellen France, dismissed the Attorney-General’s appeal.

Justice William Young and Justice Mark O’Regan dissented.

Arthur Taylor, known as a jailhouse lawyer for his litigation skills, has fought through New Zealand’s highest courts against a 2010 law by the then-National Government which banned all prisoners from voting.

Prisoners could previously vote in elections if they were incarcerated for less than three years.

Taylor and four inmates from Christchurch Women’s Prison took their case to the High Court.

…what a powerful win for human rights you have dealt to Parliament Arthur.

You have been fearless, relentless and prepared to fight for social justice in a way very few of us have the courage to see through.

Your tenacity and intelligence have provided a great righting of a bitter and petty wrong.

To deny prisoners the right to vote is a blight on universal suffrage and a means of amputating the civic conscience from a citizen, truly making them a prisoner from political society.

Congratulations Comrade.


  1. Yep, denying prisoners the right to vote was a monstrous move by the National Govt. More so when it placed prisoners further outside of the society into which prison, theoretically, should be helping them to re-integrate.

    Note that the women justices upheld the right to vote, and the men dissented. Well done wise women.

  2. Congratulations Arthur: and Hinemanu, Sandra, Kirsty and Claire. It was a long time coming but you got there in the end. Your friend Kerryn.

  3. I trust the establishment, even under this government, will now offer Arthur Taylor the KNIGHTHOOD, right?! If not, I wonder why?

  4. The Bill of Rights Act also enshrines freedom of association and freedom of movement, but prisoners, by definition, don’t have those either.

    So using this act seems to be pointless exercise.

    • To be fair though, I think it is a justified limit on such right given that society needs some mechanism for people’s we have decided have ‘wronged’ society. The BOR only enshrines rights so far as they are unjustified – and to that end I think most of the time it serves a function!

  5. I hope you keep on publishing articles like this Bomber, as it shows how out of touch you and your ilk are with the likes of mainstream NZ.
    They don’t give a toss about prisoners rights they care more about the “victims” such as capital owning diary owners or property owning kulaks.
    I mean sod them, all they do is work hard, obey the law and develop the wealth for NZ. If only Arthur Allen Thomas and yourself were in charge of good ol NZ we woild be so much all equal.

    • One day most prisoners will again be free people.

      While they are out of society there in prison we expect they will be learning how to join the wonderful folk of the mainstream. Sort of belong – at last.

      Wouldn’t it be a joke beyond the usual if prisoners voted at a higher rate than the mainstream mob? Wouldn’t that just be the cream to find that those felons have a higher degree of civic pride than your average Kiwi?

      Because, based on the figures, the mainstream doesn’t give even a flick of the fingers for voting, or choosing decent representatives or requiring their representatives to see further than their excessive ‘rights and privileges’ for the immediate and long term wellbeing of this land, its waters, and living beings. Lazy in freedom is the mainstream. Mostly.

      P.S. Does the mainstream ever recognise and allow that when the sentence has been completed the punishing ends?

  6. Don’t get happy too quickly. The NZ Supreme Court does not have power to strike down legislation like the US Supreme Court. The judgment itself and s4 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act make that clear. Regardless of the declaration, the law must be enforced unless parliament changes it. We leave law making to elected people.

  7. Impressed with Arthur & the women’s achievment – well done. I miss the relevance of Matthew’s comment, and suggest to Stephen he’s wrong about the mainstream – I think most NZers do care about giving people a fair go

  8. well done Arthur!–again…and your fellow women applicants also, for taking the case for prisoners right to vote through the system

    it can’t be easy taking complex cases from your situation, lets hope other activists can put sufficient pressure on the Govt. to now change the law

  9. Of course prisoners should vote.

    I find it weird that people who have lived in NZ for a few years and gained residency even with fake information or a fake job or don’t live here aka Peter Thiel can vote but people born here but in jail can’t vote?

    It is so blatant with the numbers involved and the impact on a small population like NZ, it is more akin to election tampering than some convenient accident. No government imports in 1.5% of people per year for nearly a decade whom 79% are likely to vote for a certain political party without being aware of the benefits to themselves.

    No wonder we are creating a skewed society that does not speak for the people who live here any more, just like government policy doesn’t reflect the well being of people who live here either but growing wealth for people who increasingly have political influence with donations to MP’s.

    Just so they can influence left policy as well as right, the donations are spread across ALL politicians, because of course you want to hedge your bets. It is not clear there is blatant buying of political influence in NZ which is why everything is now geared to help those already benefiting from the system to get more power.

    Even the middle class who have enough ‘free time’ to be able to attend political events or networking have greater access to change than those stuck often Kiwis stuck in a work filled life with very little time to protest or influence politically any more.

    So now our taxes are now being spend propping up stadiums, conference centres, industry and billionaire yacht races, roads and so forth which helps richer folks , but can’t even put much effort into taking care of our kids who need it, that don’t seem to get justice out of our system either.

    In fact we need more drug smuggling residents apparently to prey on the poorer folks.

    If a kid who was raised in state care, and goes onto prison maybe the spotlight should be on the state and the community that has created that outcome, rather than the kid turned adult that started off with abuse in the first place?

    NZ is a small country and increasingly our tax payers money isn’t spent on good outcomes for our society but to prop up bad businesses with cheap labour or bizarre policy that creates inequality in particular with the rise in globalism and the need for 1/4 the world to ‘hide/diversify” their wealth across countries because they can’t trust their home country’s government.

    While it might work out well, for the wealthy 1/4 of the world now sporting multiple passports, residencies and investments and jobs around the world and usually able to utilise the loopholes around taxation or get the best tax avoidance advice, while buying government’s to be complicit in the arrangement, it doesn’t seem to pan out for the bottom quarter around the world or help democracy and good societal outcomes that benefit a longer term view, aka world environmental and social policy that ultimately drives out the middle class.

    Now we have cheap global travel it is now time to look at how 20th century policy needs to be changed.

    John Key seemed to worry about “Kiwis becoming tenants in their own country. ”

    The irony of who is considered a Kiwi being changed rather than the housing policy of which laughably apparently only 3% of people buying property in NZ are foreigners. If it is true it is now due to the ease of becoming a NZ resident and buying up assets and property here without any limitation. You can even be a jailed drug smuggler and still get residency and a house here! Yipee!

    Within a few years, not only have statistics been modified or not collected the ‘new kiwis’ are obviously skewing NZ statistics figures as their wealth was created elsewhere and then bought to NZ to create further wealth or opportunities for themselves and increasingly not even legally with paid for jobs, fake marriages and import and export businesses being fronts for drug activities.

    It is laughable that Kiwis are not able to afford to be tenants in their own country anymore, and even if they are, to have a roof (house, car, tent) over their heads they can no longer afford power, petrol or public transport, quality food and insurance because the rise of globalism creates high prices and low wages.

    Even better if you come from a country printing it’s own money, which your citizens can swap out for NZ assets!

  10. Wonderful outcome that points to the need for a proper entrenched constitution to curtail the worst excesses of governments in NZ.

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