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April 20, 2007

United Nations Unhappy With NZ Family Court

The United Nations’ Human Rights Committee has admonished the New Zealand government for the length of time it took for one father to have his case dealt with in the Family Court.
The father had been fighting for access to his three children since 2000 and had been subjected to allegations of sexual abuse and domestic violence.
It took more than three years for the case to reach the Court of Appeal, and the UN Human Rights Commission said that breaches the father’s human rights and the length of process could “irreparably harm the interest of a non-custodial parent”.
The NZ government had been given 90 days to respond to the Committee’s finding, and Courts Minister Rick Barker had already told the ‘Dominion’ that he accepts a breach of covenant had occurred.
Father & Child Trust coordinator Harald Breiding-Buss said that the criticism by the UN Human Rights Commission may well have wider ramifications.
“The overriding principle of the Family Court is the best interest of the child, but here’s a UN committee saying that there are also Human Rights issues involved for the parents. It may mean that an exclusive focus on the child by the Court is actually not consistent with Human Rights principles if it ignores the parents’ interests.”

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