5 Oct 2011

Amesty to press for changes to New Zealand's aid policy

11:33 am on 5 October 2011

Amnesty International will press the New Zealand government for changes to its aid policy which focuses on sustainable economic growth in the region.

The Secretary General of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty, is visiting New Zealand and he says he'll use meetings on Wednesday with Trade and Associate Foreign Minister, Tim Groser, and the head of Foreign Affairs and Trade, John Allen, to bring attention to some of the policy's downsides.

Mr Shetty says one of the big challenges Amnesty faces with the New Zealand government is its weakened support for national civil society actors and human rights education in Pacific Island countries like Fiji.

He says such changes are not good in the long term.

"If you look at it as two sides of the equation, that if you have a lot of supply, you are pumping in programmes and services but (on) the demand side, people's voices are not clear and they cannot hold the service providers to account, then it's an imbalanced situation, particularly where the government itself is not known to be transparent or accountable."