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Covid 19 Coronavirus: What are the rights of returning New Zealanders if border rules become stricter?


As we know, it’s hard to get into New Zealand during the Covid-19 pandemic. It has practicality such as high airfare and controlled quarantine costs. There are also legal requirements such as pre-flight testing, compulsory quarantine, and visa restrictions.

Still, concerns about the new virus species have led to a call to “decline the tap”, especially for those who come from places where epic political incompetence has created conditions for the evolution of these new Covid variants, such as the United Kingdom. Connected.

Such a move will make the already difficult process even more difficult. Quarantine had to be booked in advance and availability was limited, resulting in inevitable delays and disappointments. This has led to complaints that “going home” is too difficult.

Inevitably, there was much talk about the “right” to return home. The government gives entertainers, athletes, key workers and students special visas, but expects citizenship or status of residence to be allowed to return home.

Rights are not always absolute

However, rights are rarely the trump card. With very few exceptions (most obvious, the right to torture or not be treated in an inhuman or degrading manner), the right is not absolute.

Rather, they represent important value and must be balanced and respected unless there is a proper objection. Depending on the strength of those discussions, rights may be delayed, only partially respected, or completely exceeded.

For example, you have the right to privacy, but you cannot keep a criminal conviction secret from those who need to know about it. You have the right to freedom of expression, but not enough to incite defamation or discrimination.

Therefore, it is the New Zealander’s right to enter New Zealand when he exercises another right, the right to leave the country.

There is no denial of arbitrary rights

The modern human rights system begins with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), in which New Zealand played an important role in drafting. Its Article 13 provides for the right to move within the precincts of the state and return to its home country no matter where it leaves.

However, Article 29 states that there are obligations to the community and rights may be restricted for good reason.

The Declaration was put into a binding treaty, the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which New Zealand ratified in 1978. Article 12 of this important treaty refers to those who are “arbitrarily” unobstructed from entering their country.

The ICCPR is part of the reason why the 1990 New Zealand Rights Bill was enacted. Under that Article 18, all citizens have the right to enter New Zealand. However, Section 5 allows restrictions if explicitly justified in a democratic society.

This is actually at the heart of what “arbitrarily” means. Basically, the limitation of the right to return should be based on competing interests. These limits need to support competing interests and need to be balanced.

Government obligations

Starting with protecting the lives of people, especially those who are most vulnerable, there are many of the most obvious and competing interests.

Covid-19 is objectively dangerous and it is the government’s duty to protect the people of New Zealand. In short, we have the right to life. Protecting this is reasonably related to an effective quarantine process. Similarly, this can justify any kind of condition, including a number limit.

Second, there is more general health for those who are at risk when the health care system is overwhelmed, as is happening in other parts of the world. This undermines your right to health.

Third, there are rights that arise from maintaining a strong economy, such as the right to a good standard of living. The government’s approach of protecting these interests by blocking international tourism and limiting some other sectors to protect the rest of the economy is certainly not arbitrary.

Whose rights should be prioritized?

Of course, there is another side to this. All of these rights also belong to New Zealanders abroad. Their right to return includes the right to be in a safer and better environment. This is not lost by being abroad when a pandemic occurs.

But the government can put a special emphasis on protecting those who are already here. In particular, it was fairly informed that there were significant restrictions imposed on the community to eliminate Covid-19 rather than simply controlling it.

As overseas experience suggests, the latter approach can result in more deaths, jeopardize health care and seriously undermine the economy.

So yes, you have the right to return — but it’s the right to be delayed to protect those who are already here.

Kris Gledhill is a law professor at Auckland University of Technology.

This article has been republished from Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Please read the original article.

Covid 19 Coronavirus: What are the rights of returning New Zealanders if border rules become stricter?

SourceCovid 19 Coronavirus: What are the rights of returning New Zealanders if border rules become stricter?

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