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Fonterra/SanLu tragedy - need for rights in trade

Fonterra/SanLu tragedy reveals need for human rights to be at heart of international trade policy says Amnesty International

The results from New Zealand's largest ever pre-election survey on human rights show that 63% of election candidates who have responded agree that human rights should be an integral part of New Zealand's preferential trade agreements.

Amnesty International's Election Survey asked candidates throughout the country their views on various human rights issues, including how they would address the forming of trade relationships with countries that violate human rights.

"We have recently seen a grave example of the risks involved in the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Fonterra poisoned milk tragedy, so with a series of trade agreements to be signed with ASEAN, India and others, trade is likely to be a significant election issue," says Amnesty's spokesperson Rebecca Emery.

Findings from Amnesty's survey show that 43% of respondents see human rights as an integral part of trade policy and 20% view human rights as a requirement for trade, while 18% argue there is not necessarily a relationship between human rights and trade.

Responses from candidates of the Green Party, Maori Party and Alliance showed opposition to signing FTAs with countries that deny human rights, and indicated concern at the lack of public and Parliamentary consultation during negotiations.

Candidates from Labour and National however contended that trade relationships allowed for greater engagement with countries where human rights abuses occur.

"While this may be the case, Amnesty believes that all preferential trade agreements must all include binding labour standards set out by international labour laws, and not hinder New Zealand's ability to speak out on human rights concerns" says Emery.

"Much was made of the economic gains surrounding the New Zealand-China FTA, however it largely weakened labour rights obligations and failed to address, for example, how New Zealand would deal with goods produced under child, slave or prison labour," adds Emery.

"We now hope voters will check out our survey to make a well-informed decision when it comes to casting their vote in the election - to vote for human rights," says Emery.

About Amnesty International's Election'08 Campaign -
"Putting human rights at the heart of the debate"
Over the past few months Amnesty International has conducted New Zealand's largest pre-election survey on human rights, gathering responses from all election candidates to gauge their views on issues including human rights in the Asia-Pacific, violence against women, and torture and the War on Terror. Over 100 candidates representing all major parties have responded to Amnesty's survey, and all answers can be found at www.amnesty.org.nz/election2008

Note: Amnesty International is impartial and independent of any government. It does not support or promote any political party in the upcoming general election; rather it seeks to ensure the human rights of all individuals are respected and valued as affirmed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


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