INDEPENDENT NEWS

NZ now lagging behind in Indigenous Rights

Published: Mon 6 Apr 2009 09:53 AM
NZ now lagging behind in Indigenous Rights
Amnesty International Aotearoa NZ welcomes John Key's recent comments regarding New Zealand's possible support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but calls on the NZ Government to follow in Australia's footsteps by making a solid commitment to the Declaration.
An announcement was made toady by Australian Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin that Australia will officially support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
"Australia has now taken a lead role in the promotion of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is time for NZ to follow suit and support the Declaration and its potential for promoting trust and a healthy treaty-relationship between Maori, iwi and hapu and the NZ Government," says Andrew Erueti, Amnesty's Co-ordinator of the Human Rights of Indigenous People's Programme.
Though the Declaration is non-binding, NZ's endorsement would signal to the international community this country's serious commitment to Indigenous Rights.
"While Amnesty welcomes the NZ Governments recent decision to review the controversial Foreshore and Seabed Act - an Act that was unequivocally criticised by the UN – NZ's immediate and unqualified support for the Declaration would contribute significantly towards healing the rift between Maori and Government over the foreshore debate," adds Erueti.
New Zealand was amongst only four countries to vote against the Declaration when the UN's General Assembly adopted it in September 2007, along with Australia, the United States and Canada.
"Amnesty International has consistently made calls for New Zealand to endorse this Declaration as another step forward in this country's leadership of human rights. A commitment now from the NZ Government would ensure that all New Zealanders stand to gain from such a show of good faith," says Erueti.
ENDS

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