Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Human rights must be on agenda for Clinton visit

Amnesty International Aotearoa NZ
Media release
For immediate release
14 January 2010

Human rights must be on the agenda for Hillary Clinton’s visit to NZ

Amnesty International is calling for human rights to be a key agenda item during Hillary Clinton’s first visit to New Zealand as the United States of Americas’ Secretary of State.

Clinton’s visit occurs during the anniversary week of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Centre (January 11), which is why in a briefing to the New Zealand Government, Amnesty International has particularly highlighted human rights concerns surrounding the abuses committed in the name of the US “counter-terrorism” policies.

In light of growing NZ-US relations, Amnesty International is urging the New Zealand Government to use this opportunity to raise the United States’ legal obligations to uphold human rights and international humanitarian law. Such a call mirrors Hillary Clinton’s recent affirmation[1] that the “United States must lead by example in this area.”

“Almost a year after President Obama took office, abuses such as torture, enforced disappearances and indefinite detentions - that were a feature of the former administration’s ‘War on Terror’ - have yet to receive redress,” says Patrick Holmes, CEO of Amnesty NZ.

Amnesty International has consistently called on the United States to ensure that its counter-terrorism laws, policies and practices comply with international law and standards. That includes:
• Immediately releasing the 116 Guantanamo detainees already cleared for release, but who remain unfairly detained;
• Bringing to justice in fair trials those accused of involvement in the September 11 and other attacks, including the attempted Christmas Day bombing by Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
• Ensuring an independent commission of inquiry is set up to investigate the USA’s own detention and interrogation policies and practices since 11 September 2001.

Amnesty International is urging the New Zealand Government to offer international protection to Guantanamo Bay detainees at risk of torture or other serious human rights violations if returned to their home countries.

“These men remain detained for the sole reason that they have no safe place to go. New Zealand can contribute to a safe, just and lawful resolution to the Guantanamo detentions by accepting one or more detainee,” says Holmes.

“Afghanistan, and New Zealand’s involvement there, is also up for discussion and will provide an opportunity for both countries to commit to upholding international human rights and humanitarian law.

“New Zealand and the US must ensure that their human rights commitments transpire into practical realities – and are not simply an empty rebranding exercise,” adds Holmes.

Noting the Pacific’s particular vulnerability to climate change, Amnesty additionally urges both countries during Clinton’s visit to progress the need for a fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement, which the December Copenhagen conference failed to deliver.

[1] Recent remarks on the Human Rights Agenda for the 21st Century, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, Georgetown University’s Glaston Hall, Washington DC, December 14 2009.


US counter-terrorism laws, policies and practices
Since the attacks of 11 September 2001, Amnesty International has been campaigning to ensure that the US’ counter-terrorism laws, policies and practices comply with international standards.

Whether in the USA, Iraq, Afghanistan or in countless destinations used for the purposes of illegal rendition, systematic human rights violations were committed against detainees, including the crimes of torture and enforced disappearance. The USA pursued indefinite detention without charge of hundreds of detainees it labelled as “enemy combatants”, and the subsequent unfair trial by military commission of those few individuals whom were selected for trial.

Guantanamo Bay detainees
Around 50 men remain trapped at Guantanamo Bay simply because they have no safe place to go. They have been essentially abandoned at Guantánamo. The plight of these men poses one of the most significant obstacles to the closure of the detention centre.

The international community, which has repeatedly called for the detention centre’s closure, can help in realising this aim by offering a safe haven to some of these men. Seven former detainees have been welcomed into European states as free men, and a further 10 have been sent to Palau and Bermuda.

In a December 2009 meeting with Amnesty International following the redeployment of New Zealand Special Air Services to Afghanistan, the Minister of Defence Dr Wayne Mapp affirmed this country’s commitment to upholding international human rights and humanitarian law.

Amnesty International continues to raise concerns at the USA’s arbitrary detention practices in Afghanistan and the lack of a consistent, clear and credible mechanism to investigate civilian casualties resulting from military operations there, and the need for these issues to be addressed.

Climate change and human rights
Climate change could have harmful impacts on the ability of individuals and groups to enjoy and realise their human rights. There is an intrinsic link between such environmental impacts as rising sea levels, increased frequency of temperature extremes, drought, flooding, tropical cyclones and the ability to realise a range of human rights. State failure to act effectively to curb climate change could result in widespread violations of the rights to life, health, water, food, and the right to housing. It is crucial that states apply a human rights framework when developing and implementing their climate change policies, to ensure that such policies do not themselves undermine human rights.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

PM's Statement: Deadly Eruption Of Whakaari / White Island

At this stage, we can confirm that amongst those currently listed as missing or injured are New Zealanders who were part of the tour operation, and tourists from Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. That is to the best of our knowledge.

To those who have lost or are missing family and friends, we share in your unfathomable grief at this moment in time, and in your sorrow. Your loved ones stood alongside kiwis who were hosting you here. We grieve with you, and we grieve with them... More>>

Police Update: Plan To Recover Bodies
"I can now confirm that we are finalising a plan to recover the bodies from Whakaari / White Island tomorrow morning. Families will be briefed on the operation at 4.30pm and Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement will speak with media in Whakatane." More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Eruption And Tourism Safety
Adventure tourism is a central theme in New Zealand tourism, and by definition, adventure always includes a certain level of risk. That said, New Zealand itself is also at risk of being seen as a tourism destination where commercial factors – rather than safety factors – are routinely allowed to determine the point where the boundary line of acceptable risk is being drawn. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Welfare Vs Infrastructure Spending

If New Zealand has a pressing need to stimulate its flagging economy, it seems very weird that the government is choosing a $12 billion package of infrastructure spending – mainly on road and rail – that by definition, will take a very long time to deliver their stimulatory benefits ... More>>

New Reports: "Immediate Commitment To Doing Justice Differently"

Justice Minister Andrew Little released two reports today, Turuki! Turuki! from Te Uepū Hāpai I te Ora, and Te Tangi o te Manawanui: Recommendations for Reform from the Chief Victims Advisor. Both recommend a fresh approach to the way criminal justice has been approached... More>>


"Heart-Breaking And Confronting": Surgical Mesh Restorative Justice Report

Minister Genter: “People have talked about losing the life they had enjoyed before surgical mesh harmed them – the loss of a steady job, the ability to exercise, a loving relationship in some cases. Others described the chronic pain they experienced..." More>>


Law Foundation: Government Decryption Powers Must Respect Privacy

The power of government to order users and companies to decrypt encrypted data and devices needs stronger privacy protections and additional safeguards, according to a study published by researchers at the University of Waikato. More>>

Latest 'Discussion Doc': National On Healthcare

National has today released our eighth Discussion Document which focusses on health and outlines a range of policies which will enable more Kiwis to access high-quality healthcare, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says. More>>


Select Committee Report: Combatting Foreign Election Interference

MPs have finally delivered their recommendations to combat foreign interference in elections in a long awaited and much delayed report. More>>

Mosque Attacks: Names Of Arresting Officers Released

Police are now in the position to name the two officers involved in the arrest of the alleged gunman responsible for the attacks on the Al Noor and Linwood Mosques on March 15. More>>

Big, Bold, Permanent Change Needed: Children's Commissioner On 2019 Child Poverty Monitor

“I want to see family incomes dramatically raised by increasing benefits and making the minimum wage a living wage. And the Government needs to move much faster at increasing the supply of social housing..." More>>






InfoPages News Channels