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Decision of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.

21 October 1998

Mr J M Stevenson
7 McCurdy Street

Dear Mr Stevenson,

Work Testing requirements under the Social Security Act

Ms Jefferies has asked me to respond to your letter of 6 July 1998. to which Mr Brereton gave an interim reply on 24 July 1998.

Following our recent telephone conversations, I confirm that the Human Rights Commission is not able to accept a complaint under Part II of the Human Rights Act 1993 about the matters raised in your correspondence, notably your contention that the work testing legislation contravenes Article 2.1 of the Forced Labour Convention 1930.

I understand that the Government of New Zealand periodically reports on its compliance with ILO conventions and that the Department of Labour is responsible for drafting this report. The recent report (for the period September 1996 to May 1998) includes comments on ILO compliance issues from the Employers Federation and from the Council of Trade Unions.

You may be interested to learn that the CTU submitted that "the Government is in breach of Article 2 of the Forced Labour Convention by forcing beneficiaries to work under the menace of penalty". This view substantially repeats your concerns about compliance issues.

Nevertheless, as discussed with you, the Human Rights Commission is interested in continuing to monitor any relevant developments to do with work testing, pursuant to its brief under Part I of the Human Rights Act to ensure better compliance with international human rights standards.

I invite you to continue to correspond with the Commission on these issues.

Yours faithfully

David Peirse

Legal Research Officer

The Centre's view of this decision can be found  here

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