The Commission’s Chief Legal Advisor Janet Anderson-Bidois said the Supreme Court’s judgment strengthens New Zealand’s constitutional protection of human rights.
“It is not just about the right of prisoners to vote in general elections. It is a case that underscores the importance of the Bill of Rights within our constitutional framework and the role of the courts in ensuring that laws are consistent with our core human rights.”
“The judgment could potentially lead to a wider range of people having access to the courts when they are pursuing a human rights matter that is in the broader public interest,” said Ms Anderson-Bidois.
The Commission had advocated strongly in support of the ability of the higher courts to issue declarations that legislation is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights. The Commission participated as an intervener in the Taylor litigation at the Court of Appeal stage and later in the Supreme Court.
Earlier this year, the government announced it was looking at amending the Bill of Rights to enact the power of the higher courts to declare that legislation is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights.
“The Commission welcomes the government’s indication earlier this year that it is considering amending the Bill of Rights to reflect the developments arising from this case,” said Ms Anderson-Bidois.
“This will also provide an opportunity to consider whether additional rights not currently in the Bill of Rights, such as the right to privacy, and economic, cultural and social rights, should also be included in it.”