The Human Rights Commission applauds the Waitangi Tribunal’s call to repeal the law banning prisoner voting.
Chief Commissioner Paul Hunt says prison is about rehabilitation and reengagement, not disenfranchisement.
“We don’t want people to turn their backs on society, we want to encourage everyone to engage positively, and that includes participating in our democratic processes.”
“We also see that the impact of the ban continues to persist following release from prison on the individual, their whānau and their community.”
The Tribunal’s findings and recommendations echo the Commission’s submissions to the Urgent Inquiry in May, says Mr Hunt.
“We see that the law disproportionately affects Māori and this not only breaches Māori rights under Te Tiriti but also raises concerns under our international human rights obligations.”
The Commission backs the Tribunal’s recommendation to repeal the current law and engage in a process to encourage re-enrolment before the next general election.
“We urge the Government to heed the findings of the Waitangi Tribunal and to act quickly to meet the Crown’s obligations under the Te Tiriti and its international obligations,” says Mr Hunt.