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Government's Human Rights Humiliation

Government's Human Rights Humiliation notched up another level: Te Ururoa Flavell

Government's Human Rights Humiliation notched up another level Te Ururoa Flavell, Member of Parliament for Waiariki Thursday 17th January 2008

The Maori Party today is calling on the Government to front up with, and make public, the latest letter of concern from human rights agents of the United Nations.

Duty Minister Rick Barker has today confirmed that the Government has received a letter from the United Nations. It is believed that the letter highlights their concerns that last year's activities targeting the small Maori community of Ruatoki, would not be in accordance with international human rights standards.

"This is yet another incident of international humiliation for this Government to respond to" said Te Ururoa Flavell, Member of Parliament for Waiariki.

"When are they going to get the message, that human rights actually and always include the rights of indigenous peoples?" said Flavell.

"The Labour's Government's record of poor performance in indigenous rights has been subject to the scrutiny of UN officials over and over again" said Flavell.

"The Government cannot keep blaming the UN Committee, the UN officials, and Maori themselves for the shocking reputation they have acquired in the way in which they treat the indigenous peoples of Aotearoa" said Flavell.

"The people of Tuhoe did not deserve to be treated with such contempt" said Flavell.

"We understand, that along with concerns from Maori, the UN Special Rapporteurs have received an urgent appeal from the International Indian Treaty Council, which has asked the UN to intervene on behalf of Maori in New Zealand in the case of "a series of home invasions, raids and interrogation under threats of terrorist activities against the state".

"It is not good enough for the Duty Minister to respond that the Government will reply 'in due course' while our international reputation continues to be sullied" said Te Ururoa Flavell.

"We want to see this Government fronting up, letting everyone see what is in the UN letter, and allowing the people to judge" said Flavell.

Background "In March 2005, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) released its decision on the Foreshore and Seabed Act, concluding that the legislation appeared, "on balance, to contain discriminatory aspects against the Maori", and urging renewed consultation and dialogue".

"Such a damning finding - that New Zealand is in breach of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination" should have been taken seriously" said Flavell. "The Government responded by criticising the UN Committee and denigrating Maori groups who took their concerns to the UN in the first place".

"A year later, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples was called to review progress made by New Zealand in addressing these concerns" said Flavell. "His comprehensive report outlining action recommendations was universally condemned by Government".

"And then last year, in August, the UN CERD Committee reported that New Zealand Government's actions tended "to diminish the importance and relevance of the Treaty and to create a context unfavourable to the rights of Maori". "This time, Dr Cullen admitted that the Committee had put the Government on notice".

"This is a Government, of course, which was happy to vote against the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples - an international human rights declaration which 143 other nations supported (while only 4, including NZ, opposed)".


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