Submission to the Finance and Expenditure Committee: Inquiry into the Operation of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020

This submission is made on behalf of Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand (AIANZ). AIANZis a global movement of over 8million people who protect human dignity and defend human rights. We are independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion and are funded mainly by our membership and public donations. In New Zealand we have approximately 40,000 supporters and work on a wide range of human rights issues of both national and international significance.Our vision is a world in which every person enjoysall ofthe human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.We urge that human rights are at thecentreof all prevention, preparedness, relief, recovery and reconstruction efforts of the COVID-19 response.

The COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020(“the Act”)seeks to put in place measures that uphold the right to health andtolife in New Zealand. It is important to have a clear and robust legal framework to ensure this as New Zealand navigates its response to COVID-19 in the longer term. AIANZ recognizes thegood intentions of this piece of legislation as New Zealand shifts out of a state of national emergency.However,the right to health1must be appropriately balanced with other rights, includingthose found inNew Zealand’s international human rights obligations, the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act,TeTiriti o Waitangi and other treaties.AIANZ submits that there are still significant issues with the currentAct and it needs to be reworked in light of the select committee process to ensure that it is robust and rights-compliant.