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Race Relations Commissioner Claims Immunity

Race Relations Commissioner Claims Immunity

The Race Relations Commissioner, Joris de Bres, has formally claimed immunity from his own legislation in papers filed in the Human Rights Disputes Tribunal (see attached).

"Mr de Bres is determined not to put his comments to the same test that he'd apply to remarks made by any other New Zealander," says National Party East Coast Bays MP Murray McCully.

The papers were filed in response to proceedings initiated by Mr McCully following a speech by Mr de Bres likening non-Maori New Zealanders to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The proceedings were filed in the Tribunal after the Human Rights Commission, of which Mr de Bres is a member, had earlier decided to take no action on Mr McCully's complaint.

The papers, filed as a Statement of Reply by Mr de Bres, open with a claim that 'the defendant is a person to whom S130 of the Act applies.'

S130 is the section which provides immunity for members of the Human Rights Commission in relation to 'anything he or she may do or report or say in the course of the exercise or intended exercise of his or her duties.'

Mr de Bres and the chair of the Human Rights Commission, Roslyn Noonan, claim that the section provides immunity for any actions by members of the Commission.

They also claim the immunity cannot be waived, but Mr McCully says the section only applies to formal quasi-judicial actions of Commissioners in dealing with specific cases before them.

"This claim of immunity is a nonsense, a total outrage," Mr McCully says.

"In filing this document, the Race Relations Commissioner is formally seeking protection from, and placing himself above, the very law which he seeks to apply to all other New Zealanders.

"He and his fellow travellers at the Human Rights Commission are seeking to abuse an immunity which was intended to protect the formal workings of the Commission.

"They now claim it provides them with immunity for every provocative speech they choose to deliver.

"I invite Mr de Bres to consider whether he can continue to expect the New Zealand public to have confidence in him and his colleagues when they clearly fear the prospect of having their own actions measured by the same yardstick they apply to others," Mr McCully says.

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