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Challenges For New Zealanders On Human Rights Day

Observation of Human Rights Day today should encourage people to assess whether the basic rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have been achieved.

“Although New Zealanders should be proud of the country’s human rights record, we cannot afford to be complacent,” said Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan.

Ms Noonan identified several human rights areas that New Zealand, as a nation, currently needs to address. They are:

- The inexcusable persistence of barriers that prevent people with disabilities accessing services which most take for granted. For example - telecommunications, banking services, and even some educational services.

- The need to ensure that the right to safety and freedom from abuse, at home and elsewhere, is upheld for all New Zealand children; beginning with a reassessment of Section 59 of the Crimes Act.

- The negative and discriminatory racial / ethnic stereotyping and judgments which are to often directed at refugees and immigrants.

Ms Noonan said that at the end of World War II, New Zealand played a significant role in the development of the Universal Declaration and that we should work equally hard today to ensure respect for human rights worldwide.

“Our credibility for this work will be greater if we are seen to be rigorously promoting human rights within New Zealand; but this is not just the responsibility of government”.

Quoting Eleanor Roosevelt, Ms Noonan said, “The destiny of human rights is in the hands of all our citizens in all our communities”.

Human Rights Day commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948.

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