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Copeland: New Zealand human rights failure

Media statement
For immediate release
Friday, 17 November 2006

Copeland: New Zealand human rights failure

United Future spokesperson on immigration, Gordon Copeland, today questioned New Zealand's commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

“Article 18 of that Declaration, in relation to religious freedom, specifically includes the right to change one’s religion or belief,” said Mr Copeland.

“In view of that reality it is clearly wrong for New Zealand to send refugees back to countries such as Iran, where conversion from Islam to Christianity is not only forbidden, but is punishable by death.

“If we as a nation uphold both the right to change religion and oppose the death penalty then there is simply no justification for us to send a man back to Iran and, potentially, the death penalty.

“This is a clear double standard and is a blot on New Zealand’s commitment to human rights."

Mr Copeland stated that he was particularly referring to the case of Thomas Yadegary who currently faces deportation to Iran and has converted from Islam to Christianity whilst in New Zealand.

He noted that New Zealand was an original signatory to the Declaration of Human Rights and that Mr Yadegary is presently languishing in Mount Eden prison. “A shameful situation,” said Mr Copeland.

ENDS

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