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Updates in Wellington and Geneva



Wellington, New Zealand and Geneva, Switzerland-

Today at the Human Rights Commission in Wellington the Quake Outcasts updated Embassies from around the world about its concerns about how they have been treated by the Government.

This update followed the Quake Outcasts’ presentation of a Statement to the UN Pre-Session for Universal Periodic Review for Human Rights (UPR) in Geneva, Switzerland on 29 November 2013.

The updated Statement outlines how the New Zealand government violated domestic law in the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes.

The New Zealand Government violated people's rights by making a coercive offer to buy properties of Quake Outcasts at unfair prices - as little as 10% of the government valuation of their homes..

Residents who are uninterested in the buy out offer were threatened with compulsory relocation and shutting down of essential services such as water, power, and sewerage services.

Yet the vast majority of the homes subject to government buy out are safe to live in and many had only minor damage.

The High Court in Christchurch in August ruled both the government's red-zoning and buy out offer to the Quake Outcasts to be unlawful. The Court of Appeal on 3 December upheld the unlawfulness of the buy out offer to the Quake Outcasts but considered the red-zoning decision was lawful.

The Human Rights Commission intervened in the appeal to submit to the Court that the Government’s decisions raised “issues of arbitrary and disproportionate interference with the right to enjoy one’s home, and a retrogressive step by the government in protection of the right to housing”.

Quake Outcasts is the residents' group formed to advocate and protect the rights of home owners in the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes.

Grant Cameron of GCA Lawyers is the chief solicitor for Quake Outcasts. Francis Cooke QC and Dr Matthew Palmer are acting as Barristers for Quake Outcasts.

There is still no indication from Government about how it proposes to redress its unlawful actions. The Quake Outcasts are waiting for that before deciding whether to appeal the Court of Appeal’s finding that the red-zone decision was lawful.

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