20 June 2006

NZ immigration proposals raise human rights concern

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A number of proposed changes to New Zealand's Immigration Act have come under fire after fears they could breach international treaties on human rights.

The New Zealand public have had the opportunity to make submissions on a number of proposals as part of the ongoing Immigration Act review, and in its submission the Human Rights Commission has raised some concerns.

One of these was the right to exclude potential new immigrants who were not of an acceptable standard of health.

Said Rosslyn Noonan, New Zealand's Chief Human Rights Commissioner: "It's very clear that the international covenant on civil and political rights require states not to discriminate on a number of bases; race, ethnic origin, social status and so on.

"The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act itself has a very strong anti-discrimination provision which includes non discrimination on the basis of ability," she added on New Zealand National Radio.

Another proposal to attract the concerns of a number of groups is the plan to use classified information to be used in the decision making process without releasing it to the migrant, who would not be able to respond to it.

The Human Rights Commission said this denied applicants 'natural justice and the right to a fair hearing'.

The New Zealand Government wants to modernise and simplify immigration legislation to establish a fair and fast decision-making process to protect New Zealand’s interests.

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