Wednesday, February 24, 2016

National's failure on human rights

Amnesty International released its State of the World's Human Rights 2015/16 report today, and the news for New Zealand isn't good, with criticism both of our role in the US's global spying network, and for our poor treatment of refugees:

"The evidence that pointed to New Zealand security services being involved in full-take collection in the Pacific particularly, are extremely concerning," Amnesty NZ chief executive Grant Bayldon said.

"Mass, indiscriminate surveillance can never meet human rights standards."

New Zealand also copped a slap over its "token" refugee intake.


"New Zealand's own announcement to take an emergency intake of 600 Syrian refugees over three years was a welcome and life-saving response but didn't come anywhere close to doing its fair share in the global refugee crisis.

The time has passed for token gestures, New Zealand must take its global responsibilities seriously," he said.

There's more there as well: our policy of detaining refugees in prisons alongside criminals, our systematic discrimination against Maori, the ban on prisoners voting and the impact of our terrible child poverty rate on children's rights to housing, food, health care and education are all noted and criticised. The question now is whether the government will respond to that criticism by acting on these problems, or whether it will continue to degrade our human rights by ignoring them. Sadly, I expect the latter.