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Project Celebrates Historic Human Rights Decision

Yellow Triangle Prevention Project Media Release December 14th 2000

Project Celebrates Historic Human Rights Decision

The Yellow Triangle Prevention Project today welcomed the decision of the Human Rights Commission that the Police's Under 25 Scheme should be dropped and would be illegal in 12 months time. The Commission found that it breached the Human Rights Act (on the expiry of the Government's current exemption) as unfair discrimination on the basis of age. As a result, the Police have told the Commission that they will not extend the scheme.

The Project, a coalition of groups and individuals opposed to the New Zealand Police's "Catch a Car Thief - Under 25 Scheme", began in April this year. Complaints had been lodged with the Human Rights Commission regarding the scheme since March by Yani Johanson, Sam Fisher, and Youthlaw Auckland.

Yani Johanson, Project Co-ordinator and complainant said today:

"This decision sends a strong message to our society that unfair discrimination, in any form, is unacceptable. Whether it is because you are black or white, male or female, young or old, it is wrong to be negatively stereotyped by a label such as a yellow triangle."

"The reality is that car theft affects everyone - those under 25 and those over 25. Every car owner deserves to have equal protection by the Police of their property. As such it is simply immoral and illegal for the police to implement schemes which blatantly and actively discriminates against one group in society for the benefit of another."

"Credit for this victory must be given to the nation's youth councils, students associations, individual young people and others who were not afraid to join together and speak out against the alarming aspects of such a scheme. It is only because of them that the Under 25 Scheme did not spread to every corner of New Zealand. It is only because of them that the Police and Government were forced to ask the obvious question of whether or not the scheme had breached this country's human rights act."

"Another important point to this decision is that it contradicts Crown Law advice which claimed the Under 25 Scheme was currently lawful. The Minister of Police should be embarrassed for using such poor advice. He should also in future refrain from pre-empting the Human Rights Commission's investigations by using secret legal advice to expand and promote potential discrimination. I call on the Government to ensure that its existing services are tested against the Human Rights Act, that its new policies and practices are tested against the Act before starting and that an effective internal complaints system is set up, to handle complaints of discrimination".


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