A human rights and Tiriti lens urgently needed on implementation of the ‘traffic lights’ system

A human rights and Tiriti lens urgently needed on implementation of the ‘traffic lights’ system

November 24, 2021

The Human Rights Commission is calling on the Government to comprehensively assess its new Covid-19 Protection Framework in terms of human rights and Te Tiriti o Waitangi. 

“The challenge is balancing the duty to protect peoples’ right to health and life while also protecting the right to freedom of movement and assembly,” said Chief Commissioner Paul Hunt.  

“It is a difficult and at times contentious balance between competing rights, but we must not shy aware from the fact that human rights and Tiriti obligations must not be undermined in times of national emergency.” 

The Commission is releasing a series of briefings on the human rights and Tiriti implications of the new Protection Framework to aid the public and policy makers. 

The Briefings are available here: 

“Human rights and Tiriti can help to ensure implementation of all measures are effective, balanced, fair, reasonable, non-discriminatory, proportionate and subject to independent review. The Government must honour this if it wishes to retain the public’s trust and confidence," says Mr Hunt. 

The Briefings provide background on the protection framework, as well as the general and specific human rights and Tiriti conditions on the use of vaccination passes that must be met. 

Urgent legislation being debated in parliament may bring the new ‘traffic lights’ system into effect in a matter of weeks, and yesterday the Commission asked for the legislation to be given proper scrutiny. 

"The 11 general conditions outlined in the briefings should be the bare minimum check on the new legislation and its implementation," says Mr Hunt, “New measures to manage and limit movement will help to prevent the spread of the Delta variant but need to be in proportion to risk and able to be reviewed,” says Mr Hunt. 

Vaccination passes, which are at the core of the new system, have been given specific focus in the Commission's briefings. The Commission outlines 8 additional conditions regarding the use of vaccination certificates. 

"Aotearoa New Zealand’s response to Covid-19, to date, has helped to reduce the overall impact of Covid-19 on the health of people – and on the country’s health infrastructure – particularly when compared to overseas. However, scrutiny and public input are needed to ensure rights are balanced appropriately in law and practice," says Mr Hunt.