Thursday, May 01, 2014

Labour will restore democracy in Canterbury

Yesterday, Labour issued a press release saying that they were complaining to the UN Human Rights Council about the government's denial of democracy in Canterbury. And buried at the bottom was the commitment I've been waiting to see:

Labour will return the right of Canterbury people to elect their regional councillors immediately.

Its implicitly been their position, but its good to have them say it in an election year. So, Christchurch voters: if you want your democracy back, you need to vote for a change of government.

As for the UN complaint: its unclear whether this is a complaint under the HRC complaint procedure or one under the ICCPR's First Optional Protocol. But either way, it will be an uphill battle. The HRC expressly screens "political" complaints (ignoring the fact that the struggle for rights is inherently political) and those based exclusively on media reports, and both require the exhaustion of domestic remedies (which are still possibly live - can the Minister's decision to suspend the council, or an explicit decision not to restore it, be subject to review under the Ombudsmen's Act?). And either way: any ruling will arrive long after the situation is resolved. But it does highlight the issue and it will hopefully focus even a little international attention on the government's actions.