Lady Phillips-Williams also wrote last week to Willie Jackson, Minister of Maori Development, the letter the minister’s office confirmed to have received.
There she writes:
“It is a shame that Maori men are overrepresented as defendants in the New Zealand justice system and are also overrepresented in the cohort that cannot fund lawyers, experts and private investigators….
“This bill will only worsen this inequality. It is therefore vitally important to protect the fair trial rights of Maori defendants, in particular. I urge you to urgently address the effects of these provisions which would weigh disproportionately on the Maori ”.
She also caught Jackson’s attention,
“… The implications of this legislation for New Zealand’s obligations under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which you play a leading role in implementation.
“Article 3, as you know, protects the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination. It must be that a change in fair trial rights that disproportionately affects Maori is inconsistent with this article – unless Maori have unambiguously consented to it. Article 18 similarly provides that indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making on matters which directly affect their interests ”.
“As an organization, our league is very concerned about the well-being of Maori who are embroiled in the justice system and we believe the bill violates both of these articles because Maori have not been explicitly consulted in a meaningful way. manner that reflects the particular circumstances of the indigenous peoples of Aotearoa. Until such consultation occurs, it ultimately means that this legislation does not reflect te ao maori nor our tikanga ”.