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Select committee human rights oversight weak, report states

10 December 2019

A new report by two academics says human rights oversight by select committees examining potential legislation is weak and ad hoc.

The report says human rights obligations and protections lack parliamentary leadership.

Parliamentary Scrutiny of Human Rights in New Zealand: Glass Half Full? has been prepared by AUT Professor Judy McGregor and University of Waikato Law Professor Margaret Wilson. It was funded by the New Zealand Law Foundation.

The authors say their research provides a contextualised account of select committees and their scrutiny of human rights with a particular emphasis on the 52nd Parliament in the 2017-2019 period. The report is based on interviews with MPs, parliamentary officials and five case studies of legislation passed before and during the current parliamentary term.

They say the current climate of declining political trust, poor parliamentary behaviour and the way laws are made, as well as insufficient parliamentary scrutiny of human rights contributes to a dynamic of fractured politics.

The report calls for a new style of politics in the New Zealand House of Representatives that fosters dignity and respect for everyone inside and outside of Parliament.

It includes 25 recommendations, addressing matters such as policy formation before legislation is introduced, parliamentary processes, select committee scrutiny and the role of officials and agencies like the Human Rights Commission.

Last updated on the 11th December 2019