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Caritas Calls For Uphold Of Indigenous Rights




9 December 2008


Caritas Calls on Government to Uphold Indigenous Rights

On the eve of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Catholic social justice agency Caritas has joined Catholic bishops in calling on the government to support the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The indigenous rights Declaration was passed by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2007 with 143 nations in support. New Zealand voted against, along with the United States, Canada and Australia.

“It is to our nation’s shame that despite playing a leading role in other areas of human rights, New Zealand was one of only four countries to vote against the indigenous rights Declaration. We believe it is appropriate that our new government revisit that decision, especially as Australia – under the Rudd government – is now indicating its support of the Declaration,” said Caritas Director Michael Smith.

“Caritas supports indigenous peoples through many of its development and aid work in the Pacific, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Through this, and its advocacy and education work in Aotearoa New Zealand, we have clearly seen that indigenous people throughout the world face similar disadvantages in obtaining fulfilment of their human rights recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

Caritas has written to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Maori Affairs asking for the government to support the indigenous rights Declaration and take a leading role to improve human rights for all indigenous peoples. It also welcomes the New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ statement for Human Rights Day (10 December) supporting the indigenous rights Declaration.

Caritas staff will also witness the presentation to Parliament at 1pm on Wednesday of the national petition calling on the government to support the Declaration.

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is a member of Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of 162 Catholic aid, development and social justice agencies active in over 200 countries and territories.




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