Amend the COVID-19 Public Response Act 2020 to include provisions that protect our rights

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We request that the House of Representatives amend the COVID-19 Public Response Act 2020 to ensure orders and powers under the Act are enacted and exercised in accordance with human rights commitments and laws, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the HDC code of rights for informed consent, and other relevant laws.

The COVID-19 Public Response Act 2020 ("the Act") was passed without proper democratic legislative process that would have allowed for public scrutiny and select committee review prior to it becoming a law. It gives extensive and sweeping powers to the government and its enforcement officers.

The Act does not make provision to ensure those making decisions, and/or exercising powers under the new law, will do so in accordance with national and international human rights commitments, and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The Human Rights Commission has raised deep concerns about the Act: https://www.hrc.co.nz/news/human-rights-commission-deeply-concerned-about-covid-19-public-health-response-bill/?fbclid=IwAR0A1BufhVO2PjWCryvk5ogFhsOR-WHlp7rcKxvPm4YInJgX4PQVHkHR3Fs

Also, the Act does not make provision for the right to informed consent.

The Act includes the ability for orders to be made without limitation, that restrict and remove civil rights and liberties of law-abiding New Zealanders, without requiring a state of emergency.

The vast majority of New Zealanders have voluntarily followed the rules put in place and the number of cases and deaths in New Zealand is very low.

It is not proportionate, nor justified, to enact legislation such as this Act, that does not make provision for the protection of our rights. Some examples of how this might impact New Zealanders include, but is not limited to:

  • The Act gives powers of entry, including warrantless entry with reasonable force into private dwellings, based only on reasonable belief that a person or persons may be in contravention to orders made under the legislation. This makes people vulnerable to having their homes forcibly entered if a grumpy neighbour (or anyone for that matter) suspects that a person might be breaking the rules.
  • One of many orders that can be made under the Act includes an order for people to “report for medical examination or testing in any specified way or in any specified circumstances”. This means that any, otherwise healthy law-abiding New Zealander, can be forced to report for medical procedures (currently unspecified) that they may not consent to, no matter how invasive, traumatic or potentially harmful these procedures may be for them or their children.

Any law that is put in place to protect a person or even a wider community should also make provision to protect that individual and the individuals in the wider communities’ basic human rights.

We request that the House of Representatives amend the COVID-19 Public Response Act 2020 to specifically include provisions that ensure that orders and exercising of powers are in accordance with national and international human rights commitments and laws, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Health and Disability Commissioner (Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights) Regulations 1996, the Health and Disability Commissioner Act 1994 and other relevant laws.

 

COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020:

http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2020/0012/latest/LMS344134.html?search=ts_act%40bill%40regulation%40deemedreg_health+response_resel_25_a&p=1

COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level 2) Order 2020:

http://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2020/0084/latest/LMS345237.html?search=ts_act%40bill%40regulation%40deemedreg_health+response_resel_25_a&p=1