Tony is the first New Zealand lawyer ever to have won any cases before the United Nations Human Rights Committee. He has lodged the first case from New Zealand before the UN Committee Against Torture, he has also won a case before United Nations Working Party against Arbitrary Detention. He regularly attends United Nations Human Rights meetings about New Zealand issues in Geneva and New York.
There are two main New Zealand laws that specifically promote and protect human rights. One is the Bill of Rights Act 1990, and the other is the Human Rights Act 1993.
The Bill of Rights Act (NZBORA) sets out a range of civil and political rights, which arise from the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. These include the rights to freedom of expression, religious belief, freedom of movement, and the right to be free from discrimination.
The Bill of Rights Act requires the government and anyone carrying out a public function to observe these rights, and to justify any limits placed on them.
When the UK signed the European Convention on Human Rights that gave a big lift to Human Rights, but Australia and NZ still have no Bill of Rights which are Supreme Law, or part of a rights based Constitution, so our human rights are not on par with numerous other countries.
The US, most of Europe and numerous other nations have Constitutions which enshrine rights, the NZBORA can be trumped by any other law in NZ if Parliament says, and it often does.
The Human Rights Act’s intention is to help ensure that all people in New Zealand are treated fairly and equally.