Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 May 2023, 12:44 GMT

Amnesty International Report 2014/15 - New Zealand

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 25 February 2015
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2014/15 - New Zealand, 25 February 2015, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/54f07db9c.html [accessed 23 May 2023]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

New Zealand
Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Jerry Mateparae
Head of government: John Key

Economic, social and cultural rights lacked equal legal protection to civil and political rights. Māori (Indigenous People) continued to be over-represented in the prison system. Family violence was widespread and levels of child poverty remained high.

Legal, constitutional or institutional developments

The government did not respond formally to recommendations made in the 2013 Constitutional Advisory Panel report to improve the Bill of Rights Act.

New Zealand's second UN Universal Periodic Review took place in January 2014 where concerns included the lack of human rights oversight in parliamentary processes. New Zealand rejected many recommendations to strengthen domestic human rights protections.[1] Economic, social and cultural rights lacked full protection in domestic legislation, and remedies for breaches remained inadequate.

Justice system

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention visited New Zealand in 2014 and expressed concern that Māori made up 50% of the total prison population and 65% of the female prison population, despite being only 15% of the general population.

The Working Group underlined the inadequacy of legal protections for 17-year-olds, considered adults under criminal law, and criticized New Zealand's reservation to Article 37(c) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the detention of youth and adult offenders in the same facilities.

Women's and children's rights

The 2013 Technical Report on Child Poverty found that 27% of New Zealand children remained in poverty. Māori and Pacific Island children were disproportionately represented in child poverty statistics, highlighting systemic discrimination.

Violence against women and children remained high. Māori were over-represented as both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 aimed to protect children from violence but there was no national plan of action to combat domestic violence.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

New Zealand retained the option to enact legislation to utilize offshore immigration detention centres. Disparities remained in the quality of services provided to refugees who arrived under the humanitarian intake of UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, and those arriving in the country spontaneously and whose refugee claims were accepted by the government.

Rights to privacy and freedom of movement

A 2013 report found the Government Communication Security Bureau (GCSB) illegally spied on individuals within New Zealand. Domestic legislation was subsequently amended to allow the GCSB to target New Zealanders' communications.

In 2014 the government passed the Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Act which significantly impacted rights to privacy and freedom of movement. The extremely limited time period for consideration of the bill restricted public consultation and prohibited a robust assessment of compliance with international human rights standards.[2]


1. New Zealand rejects international recommendations to address inequality (Press release) www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/new-zealand-rejects-international-recommendations-address-inequality-2014-0

2. Joint statement on the Countering Terrorist Fighters (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014 (Public statement) www.amnesty.org.nz/files/NEW-ZEALAND_Joint-Statement-on-Countering-Terrorist-Fighters-Bill.pdf

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