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The Rights of Men (2)

Filed under: General — Downunder @ 2:17 pm Wed 10th September 2014

Today we have an interesting case being heard in the New Zealand High Court, on the right of a prisoner to vote. Not a prisoner, eh …

… not expecting to be a prisoner anytime soon?

… doesn’t affect me?

Go back to The Rights of Men.

Looking at the current situation:

New Zealand has by international comparison a high rate of imprisonment per capita, and yes, they are mostly men.

Prisoners sentenced to imprisonment on or after 16 December 2010 are not entitled to vote.

Source: Department of Corrections

How did this come about?

Prior to 2010, (if you refer to the link above) you will see many prisoners were eligable to vote, however a private member’s bill from National MP Paul Quinn changed that.

Bernard “Paul” Quinn is a New Zealand rugby union player and politician and a member of the National Party. He was elected into the 49th New Zealand Parliament in 2008 by way of the party list and served for one term until 2011.

There are two issues:

  • Firstly one that specifically affects New Zealand;
  • That women are increasingly being sentenced to home detention rather than imprisonment. (Home detention is being subjected to residential condition, rather than a loss of liberty.)
    This would discriminate against men.

  • Secondly one that concerns our relationship with international law;
  • Is this simply a legal issue – subject to the law – not a political issue subject to political policy and politician’s opinions?
    This brings into question other law unconstitutionally processed by parliament; we’ll come back to that.

    What do our politicians think about this situation anyway?

    95(b)FM has compiled a cross section of political party views. In Summary:

    The Conservatives: You’ve committed a crime, no vote.
    National Party: Won’t comment as the legislation is being challenged in the courts.
    Labour: Should go back to the way it was before.
    Internet Party: Should go back to the way it was before but would engage in further debate.
    ACT: Supported Quinn’s legislation but that was probably wrong.
    NZ First: Prisoners should only lose the right to liberty, not human rights or democratic rights.
    Mana Party: No vote is unconstitutional and a breach of human rights.
    Greens: Refers to international decisions in the UK Supreme Court and European Court.
    Maori Party: Didn’t understand the question.
    United Future: Dunne know what he thinks about it.

    (The United Kingdom still holds strong to the medieval principle of ‘civic death’ allowing only remand prisoners to vote, but the European Court has ruled the blanket ban against prisoners voting infringes human rights law – it remains a large on-going dispute.)

    Later addition of the 95(b)FM Summary: Jamie Whyte (ACT) goes with the audience.

    What are your thoughts about prisoners getting the vote?

    Should New Zealand men be concerned about this decision?

    New Zealand grew up primarily under the Westminster system (the criminal law system) along with degrees of civil law (the basis of European Law). Feminist legal activists deal mainly in civil law; they consider criminal law to be patriarchal but convenient when it can be used to their advantage.

    One of the worst examples we have of this is in NZ is the Domestic Violence Act, which creates a civil protection order. However a breach of a protection order is a crime, prosecuted in the criminal jurisdiction and punishable by imprisonment. (Remember we’ve seen fathers gaoled for sending their children Christmas cards)

    There is a flash point is this case which must determine if a crime, which is primarily a wrong against society and punishable by the state, removes your civil right as a citizen to be eligible to the participate in any election.

    Justice Ellis will deliver a decision by Friday, a week out from the election.

    Looking back further to a previous decision from the High Court in May of this year:

    A High Court judge will decide whether a career criminal can continue his fight to win prisoners the right to vote.

    Arthur Taylor and four prisoners at the Christchurch Women’s Prison want the High Court to declare that the legislation (Quinn’s Act) breaches the Bill of Rights.

    The Attorney-General and the head of the Department of Corrections are seeking to have the application struck out, saying it is an abuse of process.

    John Pike, QC, the lawyer for the Attorney-General, said there was uncertainty as to whether the court had the power to say Parliament acted unlawfully when it passed the law.

    Mr Pike said judges can comment on laws, but making a declaration would create a conflict between the courts and Parliament.

    “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” – John F. Kennedy

    Many will not be aware that this was one of Ben Easton’s main arguments, particularly toward the Care of Children Act, which was passed without the Attorney-General having tabled a certificate of compliance (tabled subsequently).

    What the Attorney-General was saying, is that it is their office that determines whether any legislation before the House of Representatives complies with the Bill of Rights. When the legislation is passed there is no argument as to it being compliant.

    This is an abuse of process that has gone on far too long, and not only one that resulted in the rapid turnover of Attorney-Generals during the last Labour government, but one that has been detrimental to the wellbeing of New Zealand men – the irony is that this feminist tool has been taken away by a bloke in jail and four female prisoners.

    The High Court has clarified the situation saying that our courts determine whether legislation is constitutional.

    It’s a new window of opportunity for men who find themselves subjected to effects of current and future unconstitutional legislation. Refer back the case outlined in the previous post The Rights of Men.

    Regardless of the end result of the current case – whether prisoners get to vote or not – the right to challenge the constitutional integrity of legislation will hold the credibility of the Attorney General to account, and make future governments more accountable. Let’s not forget that it was prisoners who fought for and defended that right.

    One of the foundations of human rights is duty to our fellow man, that we stand together for the preservation of our human rights – good luck to those who take challenges to the High Court on behalf on men.


    1. NZ should learn from fiji.. A country NZ takes full glee in condemning fiji who allows prisoners their democratic rights..

      Comment by kiranjiharr — Thu 11th September 2014 @ 7:47 pm

    2. I think always blaming feminists turns things into a …hmm, not a joke… but a word meaning ‘you start with incorrect information’. Feminists may very well say governing bodies are patriarchy. However, those same bodies harm men too and they are not just run by feminists.

      For example,

      I asked a father’s social worker on Saturday if we already have, “Guilty until proven innocent” in the Domestic Violence Court and he said it was brought in to cut the cost of prosecuting perpetrators. In other words, it’s costing tax payers and the court is not sustainable when we stick with “Innocent till proven guilty”.

      IMO, they run the Domestic Violence Court like the Youth Court which IMO has been in shambles for years because its process can’t work with the word ‘innocent’. Plus you’ll spend around 2 years going back to court while paying city parking if you plead ‘Not guilty’.

      Comment by Julie — Thu 11th September 2014 @ 9:47 pm

    3. @kiranjiharr

      NZ should learn from fiji.. A country NZ takes full glee in condemning fiji who allows prisoners their democratic rights..

      The article you’ve linked to says:

      Voting for inmates at all correctional facilities ends tomorrow. Inmates expected to be released in 12 months’ who were registered at the correctional facilities are eligible to vote.

      So in Fiji your right to vote is removed while imprisoned unless your are due to be released within the 12 months following an election – in other words, you’re only allowed to vote in an election for the parliamentary period in which you will regain your liberty.

      That’s hardly allowing prisoners their democratic rights.

      The article also distinguishes between a person on remand and the 13 prisoners due for release. A person on remand, having not been sentenced, has not lost the right to vote.

      Comment by Downunder — Fri 12th September 2014 @ 7:45 am

    4. National Party adopts a position on prisoners’ voting rights.

      However, there’s no sympathy from the Government for criminals who’re pleading for their right to vote.

      Corrections Minister Anne Tolley says if you want your civil liberties, don’t do the crime.

      “The reality is if you want to vote, don’t commit a crime and go to prison.”

      Comment by Downunder — Fri 12th September 2014 @ 10:57 am

    5. Labour makes a prison promise.

      Labour Party Corrections spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says they would change the law back to what it was before 2010, when prisoners due for release within 3 years were able to vote.

      Comment by Downunder — Fri 12th September 2014 @ 1:48 pm

    6. Anyone noticing how a High Court decision during the election campaign has drawn out definitive party positions.

      Although I can’t see how any are in the position to be making promises ahead of the High Court’s decision – which is due out today.

      Comment by Downunder — Fri 12th September 2014 @ 1:52 pm

    7. dear downunder.. you misunderstood.
      Inmates in fiji register at their correctional facilities and have the right to vote..

      I hold by my words.. NZ should learn from FIJI.. a country they take full glee in condemning..

      Comment by kiranjiharr — Fri 12th September 2014 @ 3:56 pm

    8. Ok, so they have the right to vote when they are eligible according to the following rules.

      Inmates expected to be released in 12 months’ who were registered at the correctional facilities are eligible to vote.

      It is a pedantic difference in effect.

      What I think you are saying is that prisoners can enrol at the prison, so effectively they can call prison their place of residence which you need to have to vote. Prisoners are subject to statutory disenfranchisement – meaning that they have the right to vote according to rules prescribed under statue.

      Comment by Downunder — Fri 12th September 2014 @ 4:50 pm

    9. An exert from the judgement of ELLIS J – confirms that a person on home detention is not classed as a prisoner.

      a person sentenced to a month in prison just before election day is unable to vote while a person sentenced to one year’s home detention (which is regarded as equivalent to a two year prison sentence) may vote unimpeded;

      Comment by Downunder — Sun 14th September 2014 @ 10:00 am

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