Children at Risk: The Protective Parents Turning to the United Nations to Protect Their Human Rights in New Zealand

Weak Rule of Law in New Zealand Family Courts and judgments not compatible with international human rights norms, means protective parents are    increasingly turning to the UN for protection. Non-existent or biased oversight mechanisms, poor checks on evidential admissibility and flawed trial investigations are resulting in fair trial breaches. Access to fair justice is an essential component of the rule of law. It is the means by which laws are enforced and how persons who have been violated by the State or private persons are protected and provided appropriate remedies. From a sample of 10 cases, CRNZ found 4 parents had recently taken, or where in the process of taking, a complaint to the UN Committee on Human Rights. All complaints focused on breaches of rights to a fair trial and access to justice. Courts enabling constant and aggressive litigation for over 4 years from ex-partners [DV by Proxy] and Family Court personnel using Parental Alienation Syndrome [PAS] Methodology had meant overwhelming and devastating financial and psychological costs to both protective parents and children.

“Parental Alienation Syndrome” [PAS] or any other name by which it is known, is not listed in the WHO “International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems” nor does it appear in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DMS VI). The circular logic PAS is based upon along with a methodology which focuses solely on pathologising the protective parent, is extremely dangerous to the safety of children. Only one finding can be made : that the protective parent is “alienating” the child and there is no abuse/neglect or DV from the abuser. Family court judges simply assuming a conclusion is true [the child is being alienated/is alienated] because an “expert” makes a “claim” are creating an incredibly flawed, inaccurate and ultimately dangerous situation for the safety of any child. CRNZ estimates up to 430,000 children may have been exposed to safety risks by the NZ family court since 2005 under the use of PAS and circular logic.

 The social culture of New Zealand is based on the premise that all are equal and the same. Consequently the legal culture has no measures of equity to ensure true equality of access to justice. Lack of equitable measures has allowed entrenchment of PAS in Family Courts as the leading defence of abusers. Lack of equitable measures has allowed exploitation of vulnerable, traumatised protective parents [usually mothers] for over 4 years by lawyers for child and court psychologists hoping to increase their fees. Circular logic and pathologising the protective parent forces engagement in protracted litigation as lawyers for child and psychologists simply keep making new claims of PAS and the protective parent keeps fighting to prevent the loss of their child from circular logic – sentence before verdict [Alice in Wonderland]. Consequently the outcomes of court investigations are flawed, evidence courts wanting to rely on, flawed and it follows, the decision making flawed. These petitioners have tried to protect their children and their own personal security. It is New Zealand family courts that have prohibited them. There is a need for urgent strengthening of the rule of law and expansion of access to justice in New Zealand family courts.

NEW ZEALAND FAMILY COURT: CRNZ LAUNCHES RULE OF LAW PROJECT: Child Rights and Rule of Law in the New Zealand Family Court

CRNZ is grounded in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 [UNCRC 1989]. We work for the rights of the child, participation of children and recognition of children as holders of individual rights and human rights under international law. In the absence of rule of law, laws are not applied evenly and do not protect core human rights. Processes by which laws are administered and enforced are inaccessible, unfair and inefficient. Children are exposed to breaches of human rights, including breaches of the right to a fair trial, security of persons and property.

Anecdotal evidence from the New Zealand justice system suggests deficits in custody disputes and property divisions, including unpredictability in application of legal principles, delay and unresponsiveness to social realities of children involved in litigation before the courts. Challenging issues for the court such as domestic violence and family law, in particular security of persons and property, are nuanced by notions of “equality” or “fairness” to parents both in causative or contributing factors as well as in outcomes. These notions about “equality” or “fairness” influence judicial decision-making and perpetuate children’s marginalisation from their rights to be safe and participate in all decision-making, along with constraining the implementation of the UNCRC 1989 in the justice system

Children’s Rights New Zealand urges clampdown on judicial immunity for sex and violence offences against New Zealand children

New  Zealand must stamp out the immunity granted to those who sexually exploit children and those who abuse and neglect children

said CRNZ child rights Expert Dr Lisa Shamseldin on Friday 15 April 2016, in Auckland.

The police and social services rarely, if ever, initiate investigations of abuse and neglect without a complaint made by a responsible adult. Even then, the rights of children to be safe from abuse and neglect under the UNCRC 1989 are ignored. The voices of  child victims are undermined by shoddy, illogical investigations and children re-victimised by the New Zealand Justice System, including the Family Court. The few cases that are prosecuted often end up with police prosecutors failing to turn up for sentencing hearings, granting of permanent name suppression or discharge without conviction for the offender.

New Zealand has an international reputation as a world leader in human rights, however the social reality for many children are breaches of their human rights, including breaches of the right to a fair trial, security of persons and property

said Dr Lisa Shamseldin PhD Law


Children At Risk in New Zealand Family Court

Lack of Appearance of Independence by the New Zealand Family Court

An appearance of independence [and impartiality] is important for any court because the public must be able to have confidence in the courts of a democratic society. There are “legitimate grounds for fearing” that the New Zealand Family Court and Justice system is not impartial towards protective parents and abused children. The use of Parental Alienation Syndrome or “junk science” in court briefs can only result in one finding: that the protective parent is alienating the child and there is no child abuse/neglect. I believe this is an ascertainable fact. It raises doubts to the independence or impartiality of the New Zealand Family Court on issues such as child rights and child abuse.

Dr Lisa Shamseldin PhD Law

Article endorsed by Mr Khan Sanaullah [Advocate High Court/Legal Director/Country Legal Director/Expert Legal Consultant, Pakistan]

Comments are closed.