Lincoln Tan has written an expose in today’s New Zealand Herald in which he revealed that women on temporary visas are being forced into leaving New Zealand if they fall pregnant.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe that New Zealand was a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) a United Nations Treaty based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
New Zealand is one of the few countries that didn’t incorporate the ICCPR into law, instead it supposedly gave effect to many of the rights contained within it by passing the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act in 1990.
A report by civil rights lawyers to the United Nations says New Zealand law allows significant human rights failings and breaches of international treaties,
The shadow report written by former Council for Civil Liberties chairman Tony Ellis and a team of lawyers was submitted to the United Nations.
It said New Zealand could do better in many areas of human rights law and that there were several deficiencies in respect of New Zealand’s international human rights obligations.
The Human Rights Act 1993 prohibits “discrimination due to pregnancy”, but there is a specific provision to exempt immigration matters. But within the ICCPR are provisions for protection based on gender. If throwing out a woman because she’s pregnant isn’t a contravention of that what is – is the 1993 Act contrary to international conventions?
It’s deplorable that New Zealand openly practices eugenics in its selection of ‘suitable’ migrants, e.g. families with children with Downs Syndrome or Autism, or overweight mums are refused entry, without victimising women for exercising their basic human right to have a child.
Some will say that these women are a burden to an already overstretched health service struggling by on very limited resources, but the sad fact is that even if they offer to pay for private obstetric care they are still shown the door.
New Zealand is very content to rake in billions of dollars from foreign students (international education is worth over $2.3 billion a year, making it the fifth largest earner) and will tax skilled migrants to the hilt but it puts up the shutters when asked to provide something in return. Perhaps some of those dollars should be put into improving the health service for all.
Much was made recently of New Zealand placed sixth in the 2009 Save the Children’s annual Mothers’ Index (perhaps to draw attention away from its rather shameful position of 30 out of 43 in the Children’s Index) the abuse of pregnant women’s rights has got to be reflected in next year’s index if it is to be taken seriously
One of the women has taken her case to the NZ Human Rights Commission but looks like she stands little chance of getting a satisfactory outcome.
What next, pregnancy tests at the border before visas are issued and women terminating their pregnancies to remain in New Zealand?
I suspect that the latter is already happening.