LAWPUBL 428 - Rights and Freedoms

Credit points: 15 points
Offered: First Semester
Contact hours: Lectures - 3 hours per week
Course Coordinator: Dr Jane Norton
Prerequisites: LAW 211
Restrictions: LAW 342, 452, LAWHONS 702

Course description

This course is about human rights protection in New Zealand. It focuses on rights and freedoms in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 other than those relating specifically to criminal procedure (the subject of a different course). The course will look at rights protection from a theoretical perspective and through a series of problems and case studies arising out of particular human rights controversies. The discussions will examine the theoretical foundations of human rights protection and draw on case studies from both New Zealand and other jurisdictions (including the United States, Canada, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the European Court of Human Rights) such as those relating to:

  • The rights to life and security of the person in ss 8 to 11, and the issues of assisted dying, deaths for which the
    state may have responsibility, and rights against cruel or disproportionately severe punishment;
  • Freedom of thought and expression in ss 13 and 14, in the context of expression-restricting laws and practices
    (eg obscenity, “hate speech”, dress code/uniforms etc);
  • Freedom of religion in ss 13 and 15 and the separation of church and state, prayers at public events, religion in schools, whether exceptions ought to be allowed from laws to permit religiously-motivated actions; the interaction of religious freedom with anti-discrimination law; “hate speech” and religious offence;
  • Rights against discrimination under the Bill of Rights and the Human Rights Act 1993.



Recommended text

Rishworth, Huscroft, Optican and Mahoney, The New Zealand Bill of Rights, OUP, 2003 

Donnelly, Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice (Cornell, 2013).