The Prime Minister’s announcement regarding an amendment to the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act (BORA) has been welcomed by the Human Rights Commission.
The amendment, which has been agreed in principle by Cabinet, will provide a statutory basis for senior Courts to issue declarations of inconsistency when they believe that legislation passed by Parliament is inconsistent with rights protected by the BORA.
The Commission has advocated forcefully in support of the ability of the higher courts to issue such declarations, participating as an intervener in the Taylor litigation at the Court of Appeal stage. The Commission will also be taking part in the Supreme Court hearing into the same issue that will take place next week.
Chief Commissioner David Rutherford says that the amendment is a great development.
“While the change will confirm a power that the High Court, Court of Appeal and Commission believes is already provided for through the existing legal framework, specific legislative recognition is an important step forward.
“This amendment will affirm the ability of the Courts to identify areas of non-compliance with the Bill of Rights and provide an important additional constitutional safeguard for New Zealand citizens.
“It will also provide an opportunity to look at other ways that the BORA can be strengthened, in line with the Constitutional Advisory Panel report in 2013 and international human rights principles,” Mr Rutherford says.