Structural Discrimination within the Justice System
New Zealand’s United Nations Response to Structural Discrimination within the Justice System Disappointing
In Rethinking Crime and Punishment’s latest blog, it discusses New Zealand’s response to the outcome of the second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the government's human rights performance, adopted yesterday in Geneva.
“New Zealand’s response was most disappointing” says Kim Workman, spokesperson for Rethinking Crime and Punishment. “Five countries, (Ireland, Cabo Verde, Canada, Thailand, and Iran) all drew attention to the existence of structural discrimination with the criminal justice system, and urged New Zealand to take active steps to address the issue. New Zealand has once again skirted around the issue, and refused to acknowledge that structural discrimination exists within the system. Instead, it promised to focus on Māori and Pasifika groups in the context of work to reduce crime.
“We have tracked back over the last seven years, and find that this has been the standard New Zealand response over that time. While Maori are over-represented in the criminal justice system to the extent that they are, New Zealand cannot claim to be a world leader in human rights. That title can only be earned through a determined effort to address the issue of systemic bias against Maori within the criminal justice system.”
“It may be that over time, the nation’s sense of honour will awaken. Unfavourable comments and criticism by other nations are sharp moral motivators. When the lack of action against a highly immoral or deplorable practice becomes sufficiently repugnant in the eyes of a sufficient number of people, there will be a mood swing against it.”