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Commission welcomes court ruling on voting rights

Graphic: Exterior of a detention facility, New Zealand

The Commission said the Supreme Court’s judgment strengthens New Zealand’s constitutional protection of human rights.

The Human Rights Commission has welcomed the Supreme Court's judgment in the landmark case of the Attorney-General v Taylor.

The Commission's Chief Legal Advisor Janet Anderson-Bidois said the Supreme Court's judgment strengthens New Zealand's constitutional protection of human rights.

"It is not just about the right of prisoners to vote in general elections," Ms Anderson-Bidois said.

"It is a case that underscores the importance of the Bill of Rights within our constitutional framework and the role of the courts in ensuring that laws are consistent with our core human rights," she said.

"The judgment could potentially lead to a wider range of people having access to the courts when they are pursuing a human rights matter that is in the broader public interest."

The Commission had advocated strongly in support of the ability of the higher courts to issue declarations that legislation is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights. The Commission was an intervener in the Taylor litigation at the Court of Appeal stage and later in the Supreme Court.

Earlier this year, the government announced it was looking at amending the Bill of Rights to enact the power of the higher courts to declare that legislation is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights.

"The Commission welcomes the government's indication that it is considering amending the Bill of Rights to reflect the developments arising from this case," Ms Anderson-Bidois said.

"This will also provide an opportunity to consider whether additional rights not currently in the Bill of Rights, such as the right to privacy and economic, social and cultural rights, should also be included in it."

Date: 9 November 2018

Source: New Zealand Human Rights Commission


Image credits

  1. Exterior of a detention facility, New Zealand - APF