Framework to promote, protect and monitor implementation of the Convention
Article 33 of the Convention requires the Government to establish a framework to promote, protect and monitor implementation of the Convention. This framework involves functions within government and independent of government. In October 2010, the Government announced how New Zealand was going to meet the article 33 obligation.
The Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues is the coordination mechanism within government for implementation.
The Office for Disability Issues is the government focal point on disability (a function it has performed since its establishment in 2002 under the New Zealand Disability Strategy).
Independence in promoting, protecting and monitoring implementation will be achieved through the action of:
- the Human Rights Commission
- the Office of the Ombudsman
- the DPO Coalition, a grouping of disabled people's organisations monitoring rights of disabled people.
In May 2010, the Government announcement funding from Budget 2010 for these participants. On 13 October 2011, the Minister for Disability Issues published a notice in the New Zealand Gazette formally recognising this independment monitoring arrangment as designated by Cabinet.
Human Rights Commission
It will have a broad role across all three elements of promotion, protection and monitoring, in accordance with its existing functions in the human rights area.
The Human Rights Commission has a long-established and widely recognised role in promoting, protecting and monitoring New Zealand's compliance with, and involvement in reporting on, the implementation of human rights instruments ratified by New Zealand. The Commission has wide experience in discrimination and other human rights issues, is New Zealand's national human rights institution and provides a wide network of contacts with civil society and with other human rights institutions internationally.
The Commission will lead an ongoing programme to identify areas where disabled people are vulnerable to abuse or denial of their rights and it will advocate for solutions and remedies by government agencies or the private sector. The Commission will develop a strong, formal and visible domestic role promoting and protecting the implementation of the Convention and advocating for disabled people and promoting their rights.
Office of the Ombudsman
It will have a more confined role in the areas of protection and monitoring, to the extent that these roles can be achieved through the Office of the Ombudsman's existing functions to investigate the administrative conduct of agencies in the state sector.
The Office of the Ombudsman enjoys a high reputation both domestically and internationally for their independent investigations and inspections of agencies in the state sector and recommendations for improvement. The Office of the Ombudsman is held in high esteem both by government and by the public for the integrity and objectivity of their independent reports.
Under the Ombudsmen Act, the Office of the Ombudsman is able to investigate the administrative conduct of central and local state sector agencies and may make recommendations and publicly report where considered necessary. Investigations may be initiated either on receipt of a complaint or on an Ombudsman's own motion.
Under the Crimes of Torture Act, the Office of the Ombudsman is also designated as one of the National Preventive Mechanisms, with responsibility for examining and monitoring the general conditions and treatment of detainees in New Zealand, in the areas of health and disability, prisons, child and youth justice, and immigration.
The Office of the Ombudsman is able to carry out specific elements of the protection and monitoring roles required by the Convention, in terms of:
- receiving, and where appropriate, investigating complaints from affected individuals or groups about the administrative conduct of state sector agencies, which relate to implementation of the Convention
- initiating own-motion investigations in relation to the administrative conduct of state sector agencies in implementing the Convention, where that conduct (including lack of action) affects persons with disabilities.
The principal focus of the Office of the Ombudsman will be monitoring the performance of the wider State sector in implementing the Convention through the own-motion investigation function, making recommendations and publishing reports as appropriate.
Monitoring rights of disabled people by the DPO Coalition Monitoring Group
The DPO Coalition Monitoring Group (formed as a governance-level steering group by disabled peoples' organisations) will provide the civil society component because it can ensure full participation in the monitoring process by disabled people.
These disabled people's organisations are working together to run a programme monitoring rights of disabled people. This programme follows, and is overseen by, the Disability Rights Promotion International (DRPI) model. It involves pairs of disabled people, who have been trained by the DRPI co-ordinators (based at York University, Canada), interviewing other disabled people on their experience of rights.
The disabled people's organisations leading the monitoring programme are: DPA, Blind Citizens New Zealand, People First, Deaf Aotearoa, DeafBlind NZ, Ngati Kāpo, and Nga Hau E Wha (a network of organisations of people with experience of mental illness) and Balance New Zealand.
The Government is funding the monitoring programme as part of its obligations under the Convention to support independent monitoring of implementation by disabled people's organisations.
- States Parties, in accordance with their system of organization, shall designate one or more focal points within government for matters relating to the implementation of the present Convention, and shall give due consideration to the establishment or designation of a coordination mechanism within government to facilitate related action in different sectors and at different levels.
- States Parties shall, in accordance with their legal and administrative systems, maintain, strengthen, designate or establish within the State Party, a framework, including one or more independent mechanisms, as appropriate, to promote, protect and monitor implementation of the present Convention. When designating or establishing such a mechanism, States Parties shall take into account the principles relating to the status and functioning of national institutions for protection and promotion of human rights.
- Civil society, in particular persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, shall be involved and participate fully in the monitoring process.
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