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Posted by Philip on 18 February 2016, 4:35 pm in , , ,

Open letter to the Disability Commissioner about disability-related discrimination by Immigration New Zealand

Last Sunday I emailed Paul Gibson, Disability Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission about two recent cases of disability-related discrimination by Immigration New Zealand. I've had no reply so I thought I'd make it an open letter. Please feel free to use this as a template to also email Paul — paulg@hrc.co.nz

Dear Paul

Hope you're well.

I read with concern about a second incident of denied residency on the grounds of disability, in this case, the family of a boy with autism (NZ Herald article). Just a couple of weeks ago the  Herald reported on the refusal of Immigration NZ to give residency to Juliana Carvalho, whom I know as she did Be. Leadership last year.

Can you tell me what the HRC's stance on this is? It seems to contravene s20I* of the Act and I can't see any relevant omissions or exceptions in ss20J** or 20L***.I'd be interested to know if the Commission has any intention to act under s5(2)(h)**** in relation to these matters and, if not, why not.

Thanks, etc.

Notes

*Section 20I of the Human Rights Act (HRA) 1993 provides that, "in general, an act or omission that is inconsistent with the right to freedom from discrimination affirmed by section 19 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act (BORA) 1990 is in breach of this Part if the act or omission is that of a person or body referred to in section 3 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990."

Under Section 19 of BORA, "Everyone has the right to freedom from discrimination on the grounds of discrimination in the Human Rights Act 1993," and "measures taken in good faith for the purpose of assisting or advancing persons or groups of persons disadvantaged because of discrimination that is unlawful by virtue of Part 2 of the Human Rights Act 1993 do not constitute discrimination."

Section 3 BORA says it "applies only to acts done by the legislative, executive, or judicial branches of the Government of New Zealand; or by any person or body in the performance of any public function, power, or duty conferred or imposed on that person or body by or pursuant to law." That’s Immigration NZ. 

**Section 20J HRA "applies only in relation to an act or omission of a person or body referred to in section 3" of BORA as above, but "does not apply in relation to an act or omission that is unlawful under any of sections 22, 23, 61 to 63, and 66 (employment, applications for employment, racial disharmony, victimisation).

***Section 20L HRA says "the rights and freedoms contained in [BORA] may be subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society."

****Section 5(2)(h) HRA gives the Commission powers "to inquire generally into any matter, including any enactment or law, or any practice, or any procedure, whether governmental or non-governmental, if it appears to the Commission that the matter involves, or may involve, the infringement of human rights".

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