25 May 2024

Human Rights Commission seeks info on travel suspension from India

By: Gurbir Singh

The Human Rights Commission is calling for more information on the justification behind the temporary suspension of travel from India as it ‘significantly limits their freedom of movement’.

All flights from India are set to be be temporarily suspended from tomorrow(Sunday) after a spurt in Covid-19 cases were detected in managed isolation from returnees from India. This decision was announced by the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern on 8 April.

As a result of this temporary ban and the hue and cry raised by those affected, Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt says more transparency is needed on the reasons behind this drastic decision.

Paul Hunt seeks more transparency (Photo courtesy: FB)

“Temporarily banning New Zealanders from returning home from India is a significant limitation on their freedom of movement. Clear justification for the limitation on this basic right is vital. Regular review of the suspension is also crucial,” Chief Human Rights Commissioner said yesterday.

This is the first time New Zealand has stopped its citizens or permanent residents from returning.

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New Zealand has also agreed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter their own country.

“I’m calling for more transparency from the government about the decision to suspend travel from India for New Zealanders for the next 14 days.

“While a public health emergency is a justification for limits to be placed on the free movement of people, any limitation on the rights of New Zealanders to return home must be clearly justified by the government in accordance with its domestic and international human rights obligations.   

“An assessment cannot be made on the lawfulness of the limitation without full transparency from government so we can ascertain whether its decision is proportionate and necessary,” Hunt said. 

Returnees from India made up a high proportion of the total active cases in managed isolation. Over the past two weeks, more than 60 people arriving into the country from India were tested positive for Covid-19.

The Prime Minister has made it clear that “this (temporary ban)is not country-specific, this is about the cases we are seeing currently from that region,” she said.

The temporary suspension of entry into New Zealand from India will remain in place up to 28 April.

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