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Posted by Philip on 20 February 2016, 8:59 am in , , ,

An uncivil society? Reply from the HRC about immigration discrimination

The Disability Commissioner was away sick last week but yesterday I received the following reply to my letter from the Human Rights Commission's Senior Legal Advisor:

"Unfortunately, section 392 of the Immigration Act restricts the ability of the Human Rights Commission to get involved in certain immigration-related matters and specifically precludes the consideration of complaints about content or application of immigration decisions and instructions. I have copied this section of the Immigration Act below for your reference.

"However, the Commission is extremely concerned about the cases that have been referred to in the media recently and the Disability Commissioner intends to engage with relevant government agencies to raise concerns about the position of disabled people and their families in the immigration process and to discuss the potential for legislative or policy change in this area to better support the rights of disabled people."

Section 392: Relationship between this Act and Human Rights Act 1993

(1)The Human Rights Commission may perform, in relation to immigration matters, all of its functions (as described in section 5 of the Human Rights Act 1993), including—

(a) making public statements in relation to any matter affecting human rights:

(b) receiving and inviting representations from members of the public on any matter affecting human rights:

(c) inquiring generally into any matter, practice, or procedure if it appears to the Commission that the matter involves, or may involve, the infringement of human rights:

(d) reporting to the Prime Minister on any matter affecting human rights.

 (2)However, despite anything in the Human Rights Act 1993,—

(a) no complaint may be made under that Act in respect of—

(i) the content or application of this Act or any regulations made under this Act; or

(ii) the content or application of any immigration instructions made in accordance with section 22:

(b) the Human Rights Commission may not, in relation to any matter referred to in paragraph (a),—

(i)bring any proceedings of a kind referred to in section 5(2)(i) of the Human Rights Act 1993; or

(ii)exercise in relation to any proceedings the powers conferred by section 5(2)(j) of that Act (which relates to applications to a court or tribunal to be appointed as intervener or counsel, or taking part in proceedings in any other way).

So, like in the paid family carers issue, it seems the Government has, once again, tied the hands of the Commission to carry out its function in relation to law and legislation, which was the point of the 2002 amendment to the Human Rights Act.

I'm pleased the Commission is concerned about this issue and is planning engagement.

However, I'm deeply disturbed by our Government's (in particular the current one) blatant disregard for human rights. NZ feels like it's becoming a more and more uncivil society in which to live.

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