Federal judge allows Native Hawaiian election News
Federal judge allows Native Hawaiian election

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Hawaii [official website] said Friday that a Native Hawaiian election scheduled for November 1 may take place. The election, known as the Na’i Aupuni [advocacy website] election, will allow Native Hawaiians that are registered to vote to elect delegates [HawaiiNewsNow report] for a convention know as the ‘aha, to establish the creation or reorganization of a new form of government. Judge Michael Seabright said [OHA press release] that the election, despite utilizing public funds, is separate enough from the state that it is “essentially a private election” that could be conducted among a specific group. Opponents of the election [Grassroot Institute press release] believe that it is racially discriminatory and that it is wrong to use public funds to promote racial discrimination. Seabright issued an oral ruling Friday against a motion for preliminary injunction. A written opinion is expected later.

The rights of indigenous peoples have become a pressing international legal topic in the past decade. Last year the UN urged [JURIST report] members of the international community to reconcile any past differences with indigenous peoples for prior rights violations and work towards open communication about the important legal issues affecting indigenous populations. In October 2013 a UN rights expert expressed similar concern for aboriginal people [JURIST report] in Canada, finding that despite the general wealth of Canada’s citizens as a whole, one in five indigenous people live in poverty, and concluding that the country faced a “crisis” at that time. In August 2013 then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged [JURIST report] states to honor treaties with indigenous peoples, regardless of how long ago they were signed, as such treaties serve to protect human rights. In December 2010 US President Barack Obama announced [JURIST report] that the US would support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People [text]. The declaration adopted in 2007, is a non-binding treaty outlining the global human rights of approximately 370 million indigenous people and banning discrimination against them. The US was one of four member states originally opposed to adopting the treaty.