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Threat to marae speech seen in disharmony call

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Threat to marae speech seen in disharmony call

A Maori academic is challenging a Human Rights Commission proposal to penalise disharmonious speech.

In a report to a United Nations committee, the commission suggested the Human Rights Act may need to be amended because it can't be used in cases of hate speech against New Zealand Muslims.

Melissa Derby from the University of Canterbury says this privileges a colonising relision, and the commission isn't seeking similar protection for speech against Maori.

She says the commission isn't defining what constitutes disharmonious speech, which carries risk for Maori.

"The marae is a place where rigorous and unrestrained debate has always occurred and it's a cornerstone of Maori culture and marae life so what this raises is a potential for our kaumatua to be criminalised in that space if they criticise Islam and that's crazy. It's not about criticising the people or any kind of hate speech against people but it's disharmonious speech in relation to an idea and that hugely impinges on freedom of thought," Ms Darby says.

She says the Human Right Commission should put more effort into making sure the Government upholds New Zealand's commitments to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples.




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