Friday, January 26, 2018

Justice denied

How are human rights enforced in New Zealand? For a lot of them, such as the right not be discriminated against, or the right to privacy, it is done via the Human Rights Review Tribunal (HRRT). Except the HRRT is so underfunded, it can no longer do its job:

A tribunal set up to hear breaches of human rights has become so overworked and underfunded it can't even schedule a phone conference to plan a hearing, according to an email sent by a staff member.

The amount of work handled by the Human Rights Review Tribunal has doubled over two years even though funding and staffing levels remain the same.

It has meant huge delays for those bringing complaints of discrimination, harassment and privacy breaches.

And for those who have brought cases, the Herald has learned of two that have had a three-year delay in having decisions delivered.

This is a clear case of justice delayed is justice denied. It basicly makes the complaints process a waste of time, and the law meaningless. And all because the penny-pinching previous government refused to fund the HRRT to deal with its full workload.

We've seen this before, with the Ombudsman and OIA complaints. And the answer then was to throw millions of dollars at them to clear the backlog and allow them to resolve complaints quickly and efficiently again. If we want our human rights law to be effective, then we are going to have to do the same with the HRRT. Another example of how National's short-term "savings" end up as long-term costs.