28 Jan 2014

Collins says UN human rights panel congratulated NZ

3:42 pm on 28 January 2014

Justice Minister Judith Collins says a United Nations review panel has congratulated New Zealand, saying it is a world leader in most areas of human rights.

The panel in Geneva is hearing submissions and asking questions of member countries before releasing its report.

Ms Collins told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Tuesday that criticisms made by some organisations about the Canterbury rebuild did not put into context the number of earthquakes there were, the extent of the infrastructure damage or the amount of work done so far.

She said she also spoke about New Zealand's rates of family violence and what is being done to reduce them.

Earlier, the New Zealand branch of Amnesty International said that while New Zealand does not have anywhere near the human rights problems of war-torn nations like Syria and Afghanistan, it's still important for it to be examined by the UN.

Executive director Grant Bayldon said some of the issues raised by lobby groups and trade unions include child poverty, domestic violence and changes to labour laws. But he said the central problem is New Zealand's weak legal protection for human rights.

Mr Bayldon said last year the Government pushed through three laws in a matter of months, which the Human Rights Commission said breached basic human rights.

They were the GCSB bill, the immigration mass arrivals bill and the disabled carers bill.

Amnesty said the Government has an extra incentive to take serious steps to improve its performance on human rights because it's currently lobbying for a seat on the Security Council.