Example 1

Statements of intent: Examples of reporting practice.

Human Rights Commission (Te Kāhui Tika Tangata), 2008-2011 Statement of Intent and Service Performance, pages 4-5

The Human Rights Commission
Te Kāhui Tika Tangata

The Commission’s purpose and functions

The Human Rights Commission works for a fair, safe and just society, where diversity is valued, human rights are respected, and everyone is able to live free from prejudice and discrimination.

The Human Rights Commission’s major statutory functions under the Human Rights Act 1993 (the Act) are:

  • To advocate and promote respect for, and an understanding and appreciation of, human rights in New Zealand society
  • To encourage the maintenance and development of harmonious relations between individuals and among the diverse groups in New Zealand society
  • To lead, evaluate, monitor and advise on equal employment opportunities
  • To provide information to members of the public who have questions about discrimination, and to facilitate resolution between the parties in disputes about discrimination.

The Commissioners

The Act provides for the positions of Chief Commissioner, Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, Race Relations Commissioner, five part-time Human Rights Commissioners, and the Director of Human Rights Proceedings. The Commissioners and the Director are required by the Human Rights Act to act independently.

The Chief Commissioner, the Race Relations Commissioner and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner have a range of additional statutory functions. Acting jointly with the Chief Commissioner, the Race Relations Commissioner is responsible for the maintenance and development of harmonious relations in New Zealand. The EEO Commissioner is responsible for the provision of advice, evaluation through benchmarks, developing guidelines, monitoring progress, and liaising with others to progress equal employment opportunities. The EEO Commissioner also has responsibility to provide guidance to Crown entities on their “Good Employer” obligations under the Crown Entities Act 2004.

Office of Human Rights Proceedings – Te Tari Whakatau Take Tika Tangata

The Office of Human Rights Proceedings is established by the Human Rights Act 1993. It is an independent part of the Commission headed by the Director of Human Rights Proceedings, who is responsible to the Chief Commissioner. The Director decides whether to provide legal representation for people who have complained of breaches of the Act. Those proceedings are heard in the Human Rights Review Tribunal. The Director may also appear for the Human Rights Commission before the Tribunal. The Director has functions under the Privacy Act 1993 which include issuing proceedings in cases referred by the Privacy Commissioner and intervening in Privacy Act cases before the Tribunal.

The key activities of the Office of Human Rights Proceedings and the relevant reporting measures are included in the Forecast Statement of Service Performance.

The Commission’s approach

Across the broad range of issues that the Commission could potentially become involved with, the Commission tackles systemic issues, prioritising those affecting the people who are most vulnerable to human rights violations. The Commission approaches its work through promotion and education, advocacy and protection, handling enquiries and complaints, and undertaking litigation.

Roles and functions

The Human Rights Act sets out the Commission’s functions and related responsibilities, which include:

  • Advocating for human rights
  • Conducting human rights programmes and activities
  • Making public statements on human rights and race relations issues
  • Promoting understanding of the human rights dimensions of the Treaty of Waitangi
  • Publishing guidelines and voluntary codes of practice
  • Receiving and inviting public representations on human rights
  • Consulting and cooperating with other organisations
  • Inquiring into infringements of human rights
  • Bringing proceedings and intervening in court proceedings
  • Reporting to the Prime Minister on human rights compliance, international standards and legislation
  • Development of a national plan of action for human rights (the first plan was released as Mana ki te Tangata / the New Zealand Action Plan for Human Rights on 31 March 2005).

The ways in which the Commission seeks to influence the human rights environment in New Zealand depend on the nature of the issues. Decisions about which functions and related responsibilities are most appropriate and effective in each case are influenced by the experience of working with a wide range of individuals and groups, the development of an evidential base and rigorous use of empirical data, and the Commission’s evolving understanding of international good practice.

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