Combined Efforts for Progress: Change cannot happen on its own.
Change does not come easily and in New Zealand, where the children’s rights movement is under-developed, change is painfully slow. Developing children’s rights needs efforts by government organizations, advocacy groups, academics, lawyers, lawmakers, and judges to construct a system of laws and policies that enhance and protect the lives of children. Here we document developments that mark progress in the many issues we work on New Zealand.
Founder and Director of CRNZ, Dr Lisa Shamseldin, to speak in Kenya on state-sanctioned child abuse and gender-violence in the New Zealand Family Court system
Rule of Law: Access to Justice
Chief Judge Winkelmann Attacks the ‘Fries With That’ Justice System
As CRNZ launches a Rule of Law project in the New Zealand Family Court, we are pleased to see Justice Winkelmann has already acknowledged some of the poignant Rule of Law issues in the New Zealand Justice System.
A 19th century law service structure that provides little by way of efficiency and high fees were among the factors denying litigants justice
Justice Helen Winkelman said in a provocative address at the Law Foundation’s Ethel Benjamin address. She also sees a weakening in the role of lawyers in the profession which would damage both the legal profession and those seeking to use it. She said that a high fee regime and a user-pays mentality is denying access to the courts resulting in many more people who are unrepresented. In the Auckland High Court registry 40% of judicial review cases have one or more unrepresented litigant, and 30% of appeals have one or more unrepresented litigant. The access to justice issues were creating significant issues that the Judge wanted debated and she wanted to “spark the profession to action.” The civil courts were increasingly becoming a luxury service affordable only by those would could pay, she said.
A major feature of the market approach to justice in New Zealand has been the rise in court fees, which in New Zealand are set high and “undoubtedly act as a barrier to accessing the courts”. This high fee regime is denying access to the courts, with one spin-off being huge increases in the amount of unrepresented litigants, says Winkelmann. In the Auckland High Court registry, 40% of judicial review cases have one or more unrepresented litigant, and 30% of appeals have one or more unrepresented litigant. The legal profession has to help meet that need if it is to retain the central position it now has in our system of civil justice. It has exclusive rights of audience in court to represent litigants.
If the profession is unable to provide that representation in a form and at a price that allows people to use those services, it will not be long before the question is asked why should that exclusivity be maintained?
Keynote address to UN Human Rights Council by Minister for Justice, Amy Adams
Protecting fundamental human rights sits at the heart of our efforts to combat family violence. Victims of family violence have their rights breached in a very direct way through the violation of the fundamental integrity of the person.
We are delighted to see the Minister for Justice, Amy Adams recently acknowledge to the UN Human Rights Committee, the human rights issues involved with victims of domestic violence. This following months of intensive lobbying by Dr Lisa Shamseldin to the Minister on the human rights issues involved with domestic violence, including security of the person, freedom of movement, employment and ultimately on the rights of children to be safe from re-victimisation in the family court system: