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NZ Legal System gets a kick in the backside from the United Nations – sorry, why is NZ accountable to the UN again?

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on April 21, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

NZ Legal System gets a kick in the backside from the United Nations – sorry, why is NZ accountable to the UN again?
Thursday, 19.04.2007, 10:39am (GMT12)

Dominion Post:

Thursday, 19 Apr 2007

UN slams delays in Kiwi child access case

The United Nations has criticised New Zealand’s legal system for failing to deliver swift justice to a man accused of child abuse.

The Government now has 90 days to explain itself to the UN’s Human Rights Committee.

Human rights lawyer Tony Ellis took the case to the committee, saying his client was denied a fair trial because his case for child access, which involved allegations of sex abuse, took years to work its way through the justice system.

The man, who cannot be named, began a child-access battle with his estranged wife in November, 2000.

In May, 2001, she alleged he had sexually abused his two daughters, and later claimed he had also abused his son.

The police were involved till January, 2003, when it was decided no charges would be laid – a period of one year and eight months.

The access case ended up at the Court of Appeal – the whole process taking three years and four months.

The man was eventually denied access to his daughters. Access to the boy is back before the Family Court.

The UN Human Rights Committee found the lengthy proceedings had breached the man’s human rights.

It said he had not received a fair trial under Article 14(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, signed by New Zealand in 1979.

The committee said “the very nature” of custody and access cases meant they needed to be resolved quickly.

Failure to do so could “irreparably harm the interests of a non-custodial parent,” it said.

The New Zealand police investigation was not complex and should not have taken as long as it did, the UNHRC found.

It said state agencies involved in such cases, “police, child welfare and others” needed the resources to make sure justice happened swiftly.

Courts Minister Rick Barker accepted the committee’s finding that a breach of the covenant had occurred.

“The Government welcomes the role that the committee plays and takes its views seriously.”

He said the committee’s views had been dispatched to “relevant government agencies” and Principal Family Court Judge Peter Boshier, and they would respond within 90 days.

Police spokesman Jon Neilson said they had not yet seen the findings.

The decision was welcomed by the the New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties, of which Mr Ellis is president.

Chairman Michael Bott said more New Zealand lawyers should use the UN avenue. It was just the second time the UNHRC has upheld a complaint against the New Zealand Government.

Mr Ellis said his client might seek compensation through the High Court.

“But how do you place a value on the loss of a family?”


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