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Oaths and affirmations to be reviewed

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Justice
Media Statement

22 December 2003

Oaths and affirmations to be reviewed


A comprehensive review of New Zealand’s oaths and affirmations is to be undertaken by an inter-departmental working group, Justice Minister Phil Goff said today.

The oaths to be reviewed include those taken by new citizens, public office holders and some employees in the state sector. Oaths taken by professional groups and by witnesses in court are not being reviewed.

The review will consider:
- whether current oaths adequately reflect the values and beliefs important to New Zealanders in the 21st century;
- whether the language of oaths under review requires modernising; and
- options for changing, modernising, replacing or removing the oaths under review.

"There has not been a comprehensive review of oaths and affirmations for almost 50 years, so this review is long overdue," Mr Goff said.

"Some of the oath provisions on the statute book are now obsolete while others use old-fashioned and unduly complex language.

“It is also timely to consider whether our oaths accurately reflect the values and beliefs important to New Zealanders in the 21st century.”

Mr Goff said a number of Commonwealth countries, including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and Jamaica, had reviewed the wording of their oaths.

The working group will be led by the Ministry of Justice and will comprise of representatives from departments responsible for statutes with oath provisions and for administering particular oaths.

The group is to report back at the end of June 2004, with public submissions being sought in early 2005.

ENDS

All Phil Goff’s media releases and speeches are posted at www.beehive.govt.nz

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