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New Zealand tribunal finds first-ever violation of Bill of Rights Act

[JURIST] New Zealand's Human Rights Commission [official website] announced [press release] Monday that the Human Rights Review Tribunal [NZ Ministry of Justice materials] has found the nation's accident compensation system to be inconsistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act [text], a 1990 law guaranteeing freedom from discrimination. The decision came in response to a challenge injured worker John Howard made to the country's Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Act [text] when his age made him ineligible for the vocational rehabilitation he had been receiving, alleging that the Act permitted age discrimination and infringed on his right to work. The Human Rights Amendment Act [text] gave the Tribunal the right to declare inconsistencies in 2001, but Monday's announcement marked the first use of that power. The New Zealand Herald has more.

The government has discretion to appeal the decision. If the appeal is unsuccessful or if the government chooses not to challenge the Tribunal's ruling, the New Zealand Parliament [official website] will need to alter the offending provision to bring it into compliance. Minister for Accident Compensation Maryan Street [official profile] would be expected to provide guidance to Parliament on how to modify the discriminatory practices previously permitted under the Act.

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