Domestic human rights laws

Several Acts govern human rights in New Zealand. We help make sure these laws are consistent, universally applied, and in line with international laws and treaties.

We administer the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, the Human Rights Act 1993, and the Privacy Act 1993, and review these Acts as required.

We're also responsible for administering the Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. However, both are independent bodies that play key roles in overseeing the Human Rights Act and the Privacy Act, respectively.

Bill of Rights Act

The Bill of Rights Act 1990 is one of the most important piece of legislation in New Zealand for the promotion and protection of human rights. It sets out to affirm, protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms in New Zealand. It also affirms New Zealand's obligations under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

We're responsible for scrutinising proposed legislation to look at whether it meets the Act's requirements

We've also developed guidelines to make the Bill of Rights Act more accessible to the public sector:

Guidelines to the Bill of Rights Act 1990 [PDF, 5.4 MB]

Bill of Rights Act 1990 (external link)

Human Rights Act

The Human Rights Act 1993 protects people in New Zealand from discrimination in a number of areas of public life. Discrimination takes place when a person is treated less favourably than another person in the same or similar circumstances. The Act lists the areas and grounds where discrimination is prohibited and sets outs some exceptions. The Act also prohibits sexual and racial harassment and the excitement of racial disharmony. The Act also sets out the functions, powers and structure of the Human Rights Commission.

Human Rights Act 1993 (external link)

Privacy Act

The Privacy Act 1993 aims to promote and protect individual privacy. It sets out information privacy principles for the collection, use, disclosure and storage of personal information by agencies, and for access by each individual to their personal information. The Act also sets out the functions and powers of the Privacy Commissioner.

Privacy Act 1993 (external link)

Crimes of Torture

The Crimes of Torture Act 1989 implements New Zealand obligations under the Convention Against Torture and the Optional Protocol to the Convention. It prohibits acts of torture and provides for a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) to inspect and monitor places of detention. New Zealand's NPM is made up of five organisations: the Human Rights Commission, Office of the Ombudsman, Independent Police Conduct Authority, Office of the Children's Commissioner, and the Inspector of Service Establishments. The Act also provides for visit to New Zealand from the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture.

Crimes of Torture Act 1989 (external link)

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