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Susanne Ruthven  |  Barrister


Human Rights Law

International human rights law is a body of international law that promotes human rights. Human rights law is made up of various international human rights instruments which are binding on those State Parties who have ratified the treaties.

On 10 December 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly as binding on all State Parties. Two covenants were formed in accordance with the UDHR: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). State Parties who ratify the Covenants commit to implementing the rights contained in the Covenants into their domestic jurisdictions by enacting domestic human rights legislation.

The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (NZBORA) is New Zealand's human rights legislation that purportedly affirms New Zealand's commitment to the ICCPR. NZBORA contains fundamental rights and freedom, such as:

  • Right not to be subjected to torture or cruel treatment
  • Freedom of expression
  • Freedom from discrimination
  • Right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure
  • Rights of persons arrested or detained, or charged
  • Right to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial court

Criminal Law

Criminal law is the area of law that governs prosecution by the State, through the Police and other government agencies (eg: Crown Law, Luke Cunningham & Clere, ACC, Ministry of Conservation, Ministry of Fisheries, the Inland Revenue Department, and Work and Income New Zealand) for the commission of a crime, which is any act/omission that violates a criminal statute.

Some examples of criminal statutes are:

  • the Crimes Act 1961
  • the Summary Offences Act 1981
  • the Bail Act 2000
  • the Land Transport Act 1998
  • the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975