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Commission welcomes humane gesture for Zimbabweans

Human Rights Commission

30 August 2006

Commission welcomes humane gesture for Zimbabweans

The Government's decision to offer residency to Zimbabweans regardless of their health status has been welcomed by the Human Rights Commission as a sensible and humane gesture.

"It is in the best interest of all New Zealanders that there are no barriers to people coming forward to be tested or receive treatment for HIV or any other health condition," Chief Commissioner, Rosslyn Noonan said today.

She said the decision also recognises the unique circumstances of many Zimbabweans in New Zealand.

"Those covered cannot return safely to Zimbabwe and are effectively refugees. It would be at odds with New Zealanders' sense of fairness and compassion not to accommodate them."

Providing refuge and asylum in specific circumstances is one of the most fundamental human rights obligations that States have, Ms Noonan said.

Ms Noonan says it is the Human Rights Act's intention to ensure that people with a range of disabilities, including HIV/AIDS, are treated fairly.

"The decision is a further step towards countering discrimination and it is important to recognise that it will cover a wide range of other situations, such as Zimbabwean families with disabled children."

The Commission previously identified health status requirements as one of the human rights issues arising in the context of the review of the Immigration Act.


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