Justice Minister's UN speech compared to David Cunliffe apologising for being a man
Source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/news/110119379/-

2019-01-26 00:02:49

The justice minister's United Nations speech in which National says he "apologised for being a Kiwi" has also been compared to David Cunliffe's apology for being a man.

Little lead a delegation to New Zealand's third Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, where he said: "It is fair to say the justice system is broken".

"The Government can not achieve its goal of making New Zealand the best place in the world to live and raise a family without addressing head-on, the challenges faced by its justice system," he told the council.

National's Justice spokesman Mark Mitchell likened Little's speech to ex-Labour leader Cunliffe's 2014 apology for being a man, where he pledged to invest $60 million to tackle domestic violence.

"Now you have got Little apologising for being a Kiwi," Mitchell said. He said the minister had "talked-down" the nation.

Stating the justice system was broken and still suffering the effects of colonisation, was "ridiculous".

Little "bagging" New Zealand on a global stage was as bad as it gets and a "huge slap in the face" for front line officers and those working in the justice system, he said.

He said New Zealand had a great track record on human rights, democratic freedom and freedom of the press and was regularly ranked one of the least corrupt countries in the world.

"It is a Government's responsibility to always look for improvement, but we can be proud of the steps we have made."

Little's comments would do nothing to improve confidence both domestically and internationally, he said.

During his speech, Little explained the Government's wellbeing approach and achievements such as paid parental leave, the Child Poverty Reduction Act, healthy homes and the child, youth and wellbeing strategy but acknowledged New Zealand must still improve when it came to its broken justice system.

New Zealand had one of the highest incarceration rates per capita in the world and it has risen in recent years, he said.

He said the damaging effects of colonisation were still being felt today with Māori facing "considerable disadvantages and having a disproportionate number of Māori in state care and prison.

There was no escaping the fact New Zealand had very high levels of family violence and the system was failing NZ women, girls and families, he said.

He told the council some New Zealanders faced more barriers than others and the Government was taking substantial steps to address equality and discrimination.

Māori and Pacifica people, the LGBTI community, new migrants and those living with disabilities faced the biggest challenges.

In a press statement issued before his trip, Little said New Zealand had a proud tradition of global leadership in human rights.

"The Coalition Government was building on that legacy with child poverty reduction, fixing a broken criminal justice system, settling historical Treaty of Waitangi claims and forming the Crown-Māori Relations portfolio, and lifting the refugee quota to 1,500 by 2020."

The Universal Periodic Review is a state monitoring mechanism to periodically review the protection and promotion of human rights in each of the 193 United Nations members state. New Zealand was last reviewed in 2014.

Little was unavailable to comment on Mitchell's comments because he was was travelling back to New Zealand.

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