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PM’s Dismissal of Compensation - Disregard for Human Rights

PM’s Dismissal of Compensation shows Cavalier Disregard for Human Rights, says Christchurch Lawyer

23 May 2013

A Christchurch lawyer and academic who won $20,000 compensation in a court case against the Police for an unlawful search of his home has criticized John Key’s dismissal of calls for compensation for those subjected to unlawful Police search and detention in the Urewera raids.

David Small contrasted the Prime Minister’s “cavalier disregard for New Zealanders’ basic human rights” with the approach of the courts which take seriously the rights of New Zealanders guaranteed by the Bill of Rights Act to be free from unreasonable search (section 21) and arbitrary detention (section 22), said David Small. The most common and proper way that courts remedy violations of these rights is by paying compensation.

In determining compensation, it is the courts and not the Prime Minister who are in the best position to take into account all the circumstances of the breach, said Dr Small.

However, in light of the IPCA Report, the Government should do the honourable thing and offer compensation to the victims of the unlawful Police actions during the Urewera raids, he said.

A failure to offer compensation compounds the wrong done to the victims of the raids by giving them no option but to go through the time, expense and anxiety of pursuing private litigation on this matter.

Dr Small said that it is disturbing to see the government acting as though, as long as there no deliberate malice is involved, state violations of people’s rights are of no consequence.

In a country with no constitution, the Bill of Rights Act Act provides a minimal level of protection for New Zealanders. Those rights should be respected and upheld by the state and not treated with such cavalier disregard.


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