New Zealand can improve human rights, Human Rights Measurement Initiative survey finds


New Zealand is falling short of its human rights potential and lags behind its peers in a number of areas, according to a survey.

The Annual Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI), which tracks human rights performance in around 200 countries around the world, was released on Thursday.

She found that there were high levels of torture and ill-treatment in New Zealand, and that Maori and people with disabilities suffered a wide range of human rights violations.

HRMI is a collaboration of human rights practitioners, researchers and academics and is hosted by the New Zealand think tank MOTU. It has been in operation for four years and produces a comprehensive set of metrics to monitor human rights performance around the world.

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The tracker gives New Zealand a 7.7 out of 10 rating on whether people are safe from the state’s damaging actions. It’s below a number of Pacific neighbors including Niue, Guam, and Samoa.

HRMI spokeswoman Thalia Kehoe Rowden said that while the results may surprise some, there are others “who live in daily fear of having their rights violated, and we really need to pay attention to these groups “.

When asked who was particularly vulnerable to torture and ill-treatment by government agencies in 2020, they named a number of people, including prisoners, in part due to deteriorating conditions in the country. prisons during the pandemic. They also mentioned the treatment of children with disabilities in schools.

Concerns over the treatment of prisoners have grown with reports that “managed solitary confinement” – where a prisoner is placed in solitary confinement and has no contact with other inmates – has exploded over the past decade.

Meanwhile, a recent Thing The investigation revealed that 17 years after a very critical ombudsman report, the practice of handcuffing inmates who were pregnant and in labor had continued. The practice has since been stopped.

Human rights groups say New Zealand needs to dramatically reduce its use of segregation in detention centers such as prisons.

Phil Johnson / Stuff

Human rights groups say New Zealand needs to dramatically reduce its use of segregation in detention centers such as prisons.

Poverty reduces access to health, education, food and work at an adequate income, said Kehoe Rowden.

In terms of quality of life, the tracker found that New Zealand poorly tracked access to education, food and work when the country’s income was factored in. This is close to the average compared to other countries included in the tracker.

The economic and social impact of Covid-19 has had global human rights repercussions, with the pandemic often being used to cancel elections and ban mass gatherings such as protests.

It also limited access to education and work, as access to computers and the internet made matters worse. In addition, as economies have suffered, human rights such as access to food have come under pressure.

“It was not as bad in New Zealand, but we found that Covid-19 made it worse,” Kehoe Rowen said. Empowerment – the enjoyment of civil and political liberties – and economic rights have been found to have been slightly affected for the worse.

It’s not so bad: Empowerment surpasses the other five high-income countries studied by the Organization for Economics and Development.


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