Yellow Stickers Breach Human Rights
The police-initiated ‘Yellow Sticker’ car theft scheme, operating in seven New Zealand towns, is in breach of the Human Rights Act, the Human Rights Commission has announced.
The scheme, which requested motorists over 25 to brandish yellow stickers as a mechanism of catching thieves under 25, was deemed discriminatory on the grounds of age and also breached section 19 of the Bill of Rights.
"One of the disturbing factors is that the Scheme has divided the community,” Commissioner Ross Brereton said. “One age group has been offered a Police service that automatically stereotypes under-25 year olds as potential car thieves."
The Commission had received three official complaints since the scheme was introduced earlier this year. Complainant Yani Johanson of Christchurch, co-ordinated a group to combat the scheme, the ‘Yellow Triangle Prevention Project.’ The project was supported by youth councils and student associations nationwide, also by Youthlaw New Zealand.
“The Commissions decision sends a strong message to our society that unfair discrimination, in any form is unacceptable,” said Mr. Johanson. “It is simply immoral and illegal for the police to implement schemes which blatantly and actively discriminate against one group in society.”
Police have withdrawn their promotion of the scheme.
“Police do not want to be placed in a position where they are acting unlawfully,” said assistant commissioner of Police, Paul Fitzharris. Despite this Mr. Fitzharris commended the initiative of the officers who trialled the scheme in Christchurch, Timaru, Dunedin, Central Otago, Tokoroa and Taupo.
"It is heartening to see this fall in car thefts which has occurred across the country,” he said.
Mr. Johanson said the decision was a victory to young people nation wide who had struggled to show up the scheme “for what it really was”.
Human Rights Commissioner Brereton said, "The failure of the Scheme to measure up to New Zealand’s human rights laws reminds all government agencies that they should carefully consider these laws when developing policy."
The scheme is allowed to continue for another 12 months before becoming illegal.
Tali Williams is a freelancer with a diploma in Journalism.