New Zealand Law Society - Human Rights and Privacy Committee

Human Rights and Privacy Committee

The Human Rights and Privacy Committee monitors compliance with domestic and international human rights standards and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, and makes submissions on human rights and privacy issues.

About us

The Human Rights and Privacy Committee was initially established as a sub-committee to the NZLS LAWASIA IBA committee, and its principal concern was monitoring human rights issues affecting lawyers (and their clients) and judges.

The sub-committee became the NZLS Human Rights Committee in 1998 and its role was expanded to include privacy matters in 2010.

Our people

Paul Rishworth QC is the committee convenor. His expertise is in public law, including judicial review, human rights and anti-discrimination law, education law, South Pacific constitutional law, Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and Human Rights Act 1993, legislative drafting and statutory interpretation. His work on the New Zealand Bill of Rights has been widely cited by peers, practitioners and judges, and he has provided advice on issues ranging from restrictions on hate speech to the autonomy of religious organisations to hire and ordain leaders.

Paul is ably supported by the members of the committee:

  • Dr Andrew Butler
  • Katrine Evans
  • Honor Lanham
  • Juliet Philpott
  • Greg Robins
  • Thomas Harré
  • Nicola Manning

Recent work

The committee is extremely busy. In the past 18 months, it has contributed to numerous NZLS submissions on a range of human rights and Bill of Rights concerns in proposed legislation, including:

  • the New Zealand Bill of Rights (Declarations of Inconsistency) Amendment Bill
  • Abortion Legislation Bill
  • Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion (Safe Areas) Amendment Bill
  • Crimes (Definition of Female Genital Mutilation) Amendment Bill
  • Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill
  • Electoral (Registration of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Bill
  • Films, Videos and Publications Classification (Urgent Interim Classification of Publications and Prevention of Online Harm) Amendment Bill

The committee also contributed to the Law Society’s submissions on:

  • the Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill
  • Land Transport (Drug Driving) Amendment Bill
  • Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Bill
  • International Crimes and International Criminal Court Amendment Bill, and
  • the Covid-19 lockdowns and the use of emergency powers, including the Covid-19 Public Health Response Bill and the Law Society’s intervenor submissions in the public interest in the Borrowdale High Court judicial review (regarding the legality of New Zealand’s Covid-19 restrictions).

In addition, the committee has commented on several privacy reforms in the context of legal aid provider contracts, consumer data protections, the telecommunications privacy code, and the health information privacy code.

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