May 14, 2020
Public heath law fails human rights test
The Human Rights Commissioner says the rapid passing of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act was a failure of the democratic process.
Paul Hunt says the public did not have a chance to comment on the substance of the law, which gives authorities the powers they need to enforce public health measures now the State of Emergency has been lifted with the shift to Level 2.
He says the Government did well in human rights terms at Level 4 and Level 3 but giving the police the power to go into homes or marae without a warrant posed dangers.
"We do know that within the police there is some racial bias. We know that from lots of studies. They've acknowledged this and they're tackling it as best they can, and they deserve credit for that, but nonetheless when you combine that with police having the power to go into homes and marae without a warrant, that causes us concern, and we are going to be monitoring it very, very closely," he says.
Commissioner Hunt says it seems some parts of the government see human rights as an obstacle to putting in place good public health measures, whereas they should be seen as requiring those responses to be proportionate, reasonable, fair, non-discriminatory and subject to review.
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