Tag Archives: Human Rights

Ignoring Evidence, Rights and Safety

Khylee Quince

What a short memory this government has. This week NZ Justice Minister Amy Adams has unveiled a “serious young offenders” policy that resorts to the age-old chestnuts of militarized boot camps, targeting of parents and negative labelling of children and young people. All of these strategies fit squarely within a “tough on crime” agenda of popular punitiveness – hardly surprising in an election year, but flying in the face of both international research about what works and international standards to which New Zealand is accountable.

The “new” policy is targeted at a purported group of around 150 “serious young offenders” and will allow judges to send up to 50 of them to a boot camp at Waiouru for up to a year. Sound familiar? The National government rolled out the same rhetoric and similar initiatives with its Fresh Start policy for serious young offenders in 2009, including the Military Activity Camps, Court-Supervised Camps and Community Youth Programmes. An evaluation of the Military Activity Camps in 2012 showed a 61% reoffending rate within six months of attending the camp, with 10 offenders committing 126 crimes between them within that six month period. Young people referred to rehabilitation programmes had a 72% six month reoffending rate. There is no local or international evidence that boot camp interventions work, and a lot of evidence that they do not. Continue reading Ignoring Evidence, Rights and Safety

Forgetting Our Rights Obligations?

Has Bill English forgotten that we are signatories of the United Nations Convention for the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)? The National Party’s Youth Justice Policy Announcement, released on 13 August 2017, appears to indicate so.

While the focus has so far been on the plan to dispatch young offenders off to boot camp (and that is a dumb idea, mostly because all the international evidence shows that it does not work), I want to call attention to the various ways the policy will remove several basic human rights for young people coming into contact with criminal justice agents, as well as  worsen the disproportionality of young Maori in our youth justice system.

In other words, I want to highlight the extraordinary injustices this policy will bring about, using the Government’s own “three strikes” policy as a framework. And why not, given the Government will be an offender in the eyes of international law, if indeed National is the government after September’s election and this policy is put into effect. Continue reading Forgetting Our Rights Obligations?

Corporate Violations

After at least 40 years of prevarication and debate, the United Nations Human Rights Council is finally developing a new treaty designed to hold corporations accountable for their human rights violations.  There is a long way to go before this treaty is agreed since, as Stefanie Khoury and David Whyte’s new book, Corporate Human Rights Violations, shows, the process has a long and fractious history.  The book develops an analysis of the historical, political and legal contexts behind international demands for binding mechanisms for corporate accountability and argues that those demands are characterised by a constant tension between the neo-colonial politics of the Global North and the post-colonial politics of the Global South that date back to the 1960s.

In order to analyse the prospects for using human rights law to challenge the impunity with which corporations author human rights violations, the book explores the uses of tort law to deal with transnational corporate human right violations in domestic courts, the uses of human rights law at the European Court of Human Rights and at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and the efforts of the OECD process to provide redress for corporate human rights abuses.  The book finds strong empirical evidence that those mechanisms do not offer a meaningful challenge to corporate power, but ultimately support the dominant right of corporations to accumulate profit un-interrupted.  Continue reading Corporate Violations