9 Jun 2011

Jury exemption at 65 'could be ageism'

12:20 pm on 9 June 2011

The Human Rights Commission says allowing people older than 65 to permanently opt out of jury service could be age discrimination.

A bill before Parliament would allow 65-year-olds to apply to exclude themselves from jury selection permanently, based solely on their age.

Human Rights Commissioner Dr Judy McGregor says the legislation supports a view that elderly people are not up to contributing to the wider community.

"We do think just providing permanent excusal on age grounds based on this stereotypical and old-fashioned thinking that older people in New Zealand want a cup of tea and a lie down at the age of 65 is wrong."

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice says it can not comment on the bill while it is before Parliament, but says the ministry supports all members of the community participating in jury service regardless of their age.