Human Rights Commission welcomes Supreme Court judgment

Human Rights Commission welcomes Supreme Court judgment

October 7, 2021

The Human Rights Commission welcomes the Supreme Court judgement in R v Fitzgerald, a case that challenged the “three strikes” sentencing law.

The Commission appeared as an intervener in the case and provided the Court with submissions on the human rights implications. 

The Commission welcomes the Supreme Court’s finding that the third strike sentence was disproportionately severe and in breach of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. 

Concerns about the law were raised by the Attorney-General, the Commission and others when the law was introduced over a decade ago. 

“The judgment also strongly affirms that sentences must conform with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act and with New Zealand’s international human rights obligations,” said the Commission’s Chief Legal Advisor John Hancock.

“A human rights consistent approach is critical to avoiding unjust sentencing outcomes.”

The Commission notes that the three-strikes sentencing regime was subject to review by the Ministry of Justice in 2018. The Commission also notes that the Government stated it would repeal the law in October 2020.

The Commission will analyse the court’s detailed judgement before providing further comment.