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


NZ Washes Its Hands of Defending Human Rights

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, 3 June 2009

NZ Washes Its Hands of Defending and Promoting Human Rights

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – MFAT has informed Harmeet Sooden that it will not act on his official complaint regarding his mistreatment by Israeli authorities when he attempted to enter Israel on 14 June 2008 as a human rights volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).

Mr Sooden was assaulted and injured, threatened, held in solitary confinement, denied the right to legal counsel and consular representation, and unlawfully deported on 18 June 2008. Israeli authorities told Mr Sooden that he was being deported because he constitutes “a threat to the security of the State of Israel”.

In a recent letter, MFAT told Mr Sooden, “You have advised that you were travelling on your Canadian passport at this time. In this case, New Zealand would not have expected to be notified of your detention because you did not seek to enter Israel on your New Zealand passport”.

“I am a New Zealand citizen,” Mr Sooden counters, “and I would expect the New Zealand Government to act to protect its citizens overseas. MFAT is failing to consider evidence that I was denied the right to request consular assistance from New Zealand.”

Mr. Sooden believes this raises serious questions for New Zealanders with dual citizenship, who travel abroad on a passport of their other nationality (many New Zealanders hold British passports).

“Should they, too, expect no assistance from NZ in dire emergencies?” asks Mr Sooden, “MFAT’s decision not to pursue this matter with Israel implies that our Government thinks it’s ok for NZ citizens to be held incommunicado for 4 days overseas—a critical period during which serious harm could come to them.”

He says MFAT has not taken his complaint seriously: “When I was kidnapped, supposedly by an ‘official enemy’, the Government’s response was overwhelmingly compassionate. Now, under these circumstances does one stop being a Kiwi?”

MFAT’s response to Mr Sooden’s complaint is consistent with the Government’s failure to condemn Israel’s recent invasion of Gaza; its decision to withdraw from seeking election to the Human Rights Council in favour of the US; and its boycott of the 2009 UN World Conference Against Racism. “These decisions are not informed by a concern for human rights or the rights of human rights defenders, but rather accommodation to US foreign policy, particularly US policy towards Israel,” says Mr Sooden.

Mr Sooden’s deportation from Israel appears to be part of an ongoing Israeli policy to prevent human rights defenders from documenting and exposing Israel’s human rights violations in the OPT.

ISM is an international human rights organisation composed of Palestinians, Israelis and internationals who monitor the human rights situation and protect human rights in the OPT. Several Palestinians affiliated with ISM have been killed or severely injured by the Israel Defense Forces in the past year—a fact largely unreported in the West. An ISM volunteer from the US, Tristan Anderson, remains in a coma after being shot in the head with a high-velocity tear-gas projectile by the Israel Border Police on 18 March 2009. “The fact that I was seeking redress not only as a representative of ISM but also on its behalf appears to have made no difference,” says Mr Sooden.

Mr Sooden and three others were kidnapped in Iraq on 26 November 2005 while participating in an international Christian Peacemaker Teams delegation. One member of the group, US citizen Tom Fox, was murdered on 9 March 2006. Mr Sooden and the remaining hostages, Canadian James Loney and Briton Norman Kember, were freed two weeks later.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Crowdsale And Crowdfunding Campaign: Help Create The Future Of Independent News

Two weeks to go! The Scoop 3.0 plan aims to create NZ’s first community-owned, distributed news and media intelligence ecosystem in 2019. We believe this ScoopPro media monetisation approach can be scaled and spread globally to support local and independent news efforts in regional New Zealand and around the world.

Scoop is an ecosystem, it would not exist without those who contribute to it, read it and rely on it for professional media purposes. Generous past support from this ecosystem has enabled us to come this far in developing our business model. Support our PledgeMe Campaign>>


14/11: Two Years’ Progress Since The Kaikoura Earthquake

Mayor John Leggett said it was a day for reflection, but also a time to recognise the work by many people to support progress towards recovery made across Marlborough since November 2016. More>>


Pike River: Mine Drift Re-Entry Plan To Proceed

“I’ve decided the Te Kāhui Whakamana Rua Tekau Mā Iwa - Pike River Recovery Agency, recommended course of action to enter the drift, using the existing access tunnel, is by far the safest option,” said Andrew Little. More>>


Appointments: New High Commissioner To Australia Announced

“Dame Annette King needs no introduction given her long running career as a parliamentarian where she has previously held a number senior Cabinet portfolios, including Justice, Police and Health. She also was Parliament’s longest serving female MP with 30 years’ service,” said Mr Peters. More>>


Two Years Since Kaikoura: Silvia Cartwright To Lead Inquiry Into EQC

“The inquiry will be the first of its kind under the Public Inquiries Act 2013 and will have all the powers of a Royal Commission, be independent of Government and make its report directly to the Governor-General. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Royal Commission Into Child Abuse

Obviously, it is good news that the coalition government has broadened the scope of its Royal Commission into the abuse of children, beyond its previous focus on children in state care. More>>


Cases Delayed: Court Staff Refuse To Handle Sentencing Papers

Dozens of court cases have reportedly been delayed, as court staff escalate industrial action at two Auckland courts by enforcing a ban on handling sentencing papers. More>>


Education: Primary Teachers Rolling Strikes

RNZ Report: More than 100,000 primary school students in Auckland will be home from school today as teachers and principals walk off the job for the second time this year. It's the start of a week of rolling one-day strikes around the country, after the collapse of contract negotiations last Thursday. More>>


"Process Was Sound": Inquiry Into Haumaha Appointment Released

The Inquiry’s purpose was to examine, identify, and report on the adequacy of the process that led to the appointment. It found the process was sound and no available relevant information was omitted. More>>





InfoPages News Channels