Monday, August 20, 2007

More on the UN CERD report

Peace Movement Aotearoa has put the concluding obsevations of the uN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination online here [PDF]. In addition to the points noted in my previous post about the treatment of Maori, they also makes some broader points about the New Zealand constitution. In particular, they express concern

that the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act (NZBORA) does not enjor protected status and that enactment of legislation contrary to the provisions of that Act is therefore possible. The Committee considers that the requirement whereby the Attorney-General may bring to the attention of Parliament any provision of a Bill that appears to be inconsistent with the NZBORA is insufficient to guarantee full respect for human rights, in particular the right not to suffer from discrimination based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin.

They also express similar concerns about the Treaty of Waitangi and the possibility of breaching Maori rights, and so recommend its "entrenchment as a constitutional norm", as well as making the decisions of the Waitangi Tribunal binding upon the government. At present, the government can breach the Treaty (and thus the rights of Maori under international and common law) in much the same way is it can violate human rights, and the UN thinks that this simply is not good enough (particularly in light of recent abuses e.g. the Foreshore and Seabed Act).

I hope the government willact on this. but given their prickly attitude towards the courts, I expect instead that they'll continue to stand on Parliamentary Sovereignty, without recognising that an absolute Parliament is as much of a danger as an absolute monarch, and needs to be similarly emasculated for the people to be safe.