by Metiria Turei
This is my complaint to the Human Rights Commissioner. I emailed it to the HRC at 12.26pm and received an acknowledgement at 2.26pm. I’m not sure what information the HR Commissioner was using when she said her office had received no complaints by 1pm, especially as the Mana Party had also complained and received acknowledgement of it before that time. I’m also unclear as to how she can make a determination that the complaints are without substance without first reading them, giving consideration to the content of the complaints and considering the applicable law.
Bloody dismal, frankly
Dame Susan Devoy
Human Rights Commission
P O Box 6751
30 May 2013
Tēnā koe, Dame Susan
We respectfully request the Human Rights Office to address the publication of two cartoons appearing in both the Marlborough Express and The Christchurch Press today.
The cartoons concern the Government’s recently announced Food in Schools programme.
Specifically the cartoons depict a Polynesian family using the breakfast in schools programme as a method to save money for cigarettes, alcohol and gambling. I believe this cartoon may infringe the Human Rights Act, specifically section 61 which makes it unlawful to publish material which is threatening, abusive or insulting and likely to incite hostility against a group of people on the grounds of their colour, race or ethnicity.
I strongly believe in a free and independent press, whose critique of government policy is crucial to our democracy but that freedom comes with a responsibility not to incite hatred against people, let alone breach the law.
I believe that this public attack on families in need will incite hostility against New Zealand children, growing up in poverty and who will benefit from the Breakfast at School programme. It encourages the public to view them and their families, particularly Maori and Pasifika families, in a derogatory frame. This is harmful, irresponsible and unlawful.
We understand that under the Bill of Rights, offensiveness of a race related comment is not sufficient on its own to constitute an offence. Our understanding is that the comment must also be a probable cause of ethnic hostility or contempt. We believe this to be the case in this instance.
In March this year the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination welcomed the government’s recognition that structural discrimination is partly responsible for the persistent poor outcomes that the members of the Maori and Pasifika communities experience in the fields of employment, health and the administration of criminal justice.
The Committee recommended that the government intensify its efforts to improve the outcomes of the Maori and Pasifika in the fields of employment, health and in the administration of criminal justice by, among other things, addressing the existing structural discrimination.
This type of publication encourages the underlying racial prejudice that can drive structural discrimination.
Given the public interest in this matter we would appreciate a response at your earliest convenience
Green Party Co-leader