Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


NZ Appears In Amnesty International Report

RELEASED 10pm Wed 14 June 2000


New Zealand's inclusion for only the third time on Amnesty International's annual list of countries violating human rights is a wake-up call to our national attitudes about asylum-seekers, AI Executive Director Ced Simpson said yesterday.

"It is a terrible irony that New Zealand, a country where human rights are relatively well protected, adopted policies last year which make it more difficult for people fleeing gross human rights abuses to gain asylum from their persecutors," said Mr Simpson.

AI's annual report documents human rights abuses in 144 countries, and lists Australia and New Zealand for their contravention of international human rights obligations relating to people seeking asylum from persecution.

New Zealand last year introduced new legislation to detain indefinitely asylum-seekers who arrive without documentation, while Australia was included in the AI report because it has over 4000 refugee applicants and boat people detained without judicial control, the AI report found.

"Amnesty International welcomes the reviews currently underway into how human rights considerations can be put at the heart of New Zealand Government domestic and foreign policy," Mr Simpson said. "But New Zealand must ensure that it does not ill-treat those who have fled the human rights violations the Government rightly condemns elsewhere."

Mr Simpson said AI supported the return to their home countries of asylum-seekers who were found not to have genuine cause.

"However, it is simply wrong that people who have suffered torture, rape, and terror, often in prisons, can find themselves immediately detained in prison upon arrival in New Zealand, where they have legitimately sought sanctuary.

"While not convicted of any crime, these people have been subject to our penal regulations, depriving them of contact with non-approved visitors, the media, and resources necessary to prepare their refugee status applications. At the very least, their situation should offend every New Zealander's sense of fair play, let alone justice."

The AI annual report also details human rights abuses throughout the region, including in the Solomon Islands, East Timor, and the Indonesian province of West Papua.

"Events in our own neighbourhood last year proved more potently than ever the constant vigilance required to protect human rights, and the vital role that New Zealanders can play in restoring and building societies which respect human rights," said Mr Simpson.

The New Zealand section of Amnesty International welcomed the move by the previous government to make the realisation of human rights one of the central goals of New Zealand development assistance, but has called on New Zealand governments to work for more proactive and creative human rights strategies aimed at prevention of human rights violations, and a stronger human rights component to UN peacekeeping missions.



Amnesty International's Report covers the 1999 calendar year.

International human rights standards state that asylum-seekers should not normally be detained. In exceptional cases, for certain specified reasons, it may be permissible to detain an individual for a limited period, only after full consideration of all possible alternatives, and not with criminals. Moreover, if asylum-seekers are detained on any such grounds, the detention should be given a regular and meaningful review by a court or judicial body. Last year Immigration Minister Tuariki Delamere asserted that it was 'standard policy' to detain people with apparently 'manifestly unfounded' asylum claims.

The Court of Appeal has yet to hand down its decision following a Government appeal against a High Court order to reconsider its refusal to grant detained asylum-seekers conditional bail.

The Government is reviewing both New Zealand's domestic human rights mechanisms, and the place of human rights in foreign policy. The Parliamentary Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee is conducting a formal inquiry into the latter.

New Zealand last appeared in Amnesty's annual Report in 1994 and 1995.

For further information contact:

Ced Simpson BH 0-4-499 3348 AH 0-4-938 0716 / 0-4-938 0717 mobile 021 371 205

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Peters/Ardern Triumph

There are a lot of good reasons to feel joyful about this outcome. It is what so many young voters – the best hope for the country’s future – wanted.

Far more important than the implications for the Economy Gods ( is the dollar up or down? ) last night’s outcome will also mean many, many vulnerable New Zealanders will have a better life over the next three years at least.

Yet the desire for change was in the majority, across the country..>>>More


Labour on its agreement |Peters: Post-Election Announcement Speech | Greenpeace “cautiously hopeful” about new Government | ACT - Madman on the loose | E tū ecstatic | Chamber welcomes the outcome | Greens on their joining Govt | EDS welcomes new govt | Immigrant groups worry | Feds ready to engage new coalition government | Labour Ministers of the Crown announced


Climate: Increasing Greenhouse Emissions Hit NZ

New Zealand is seeing impacts of excess greenhouse gas emissions in our climate and oceans, according to the latest national report from the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ about the state of the atmosphere and climate…More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>


Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>


Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>


Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>


Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>




Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election