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

Amnesty International Report 2015/16 - New Zealand

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 24 February 2016
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2015/16 - New Zealand, 24 February 2016, available at: [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 sufficient legal protection. Māori (Indigenous people) continued to be over-represented in the criminal justice system. Family violence was widespread and levels of child poverty remained high. Asylum-seekers were detained alongside remand prisoners.


The government did not give a formal response to the recommendations made by the Constitutional Advisory Panel in 2013 to improve the Bill of Rights Act 1990.

Economic, social and cultural rights continued to lack full protection in domestic legislation.


Both the UN Committee against Torture and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention expressed concern at the disproportionate representation of Māori in the criminal justice system. Māori, who are 15% of the general population, make up 51% of the total prison population and 65% of the female prison population.

The High Court in July held that a blanket ban on prisoners' right to vote was inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act.


Acknowledging that the level of family violence was "horrific", the Ministry of Justice in August initiated a consultation, including on the need for a review of existing legislation. In the document, the Ministry acknowledged that "gender is a significant risk factor for victimization and harm across all forms of family violence" and that the substantial majority of intimate partner violence involving coercive control occurs against women. Young women were identified as particularly vulnerable, and at increasing risk when they have children.


New Zealand retained three reservations to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The 2015 Technical Report on Child Poverty found that up to 29% of New Zealand children lived in relative poverty and 9% were living in severe poverty, impacting on their access to adequate housing, health care, food and education.


The extent of surveillance powers and the sharing of that information with foreign intelligence partners remained unclear. Leaked National Security Agency documents revealed the Government Communications Security Bureau's (GCSB) "full-take collection" of data on the Pacific region. The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security opened an inquiry into the way the GCSB undertakes its foreign intelligence activities.


The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention expressed concern that New Zealand was using the prison system to detain some asylum-seekers alongside remand detainees.

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