NEW ZEALAND | Independent oversight to ensure the rights of disabled people are upheld during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Independent Monitoring Mechanism (IMM) is made up of the Disabled People’s Organisations’ Coalition, the Human Rights Commission and the Ombudsman. We are designated to monitor the actions of government under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Disability Convention) to make sure it is meeting its obligations to disabled New Zealanders.

The IMM has a key role to ensure disabled people’s rights are upheld during New Zealand’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. We recognise that the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt keenly by disabled people and vulnerable groups.

As New Zealand’s alert level shifts to level 2 and we return to our workplaces, schools and communities, we must make sure no one is left behind. Under Article 11 of the Disability Convention, governments must take all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk.

Each of the IMM partners are active in their respective monitoring roles. For example, the Chief Ombudsman has commenced a programme of inspections focusing on the way prisons, mental health facilities, and aged care residences have balanced responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with
maintaining people’s human rights. The inspections include consideration of the rights of detainees with disabilities. The Ombudsman also continues to investigate complaints about conduct of public sector agencies that affects disabled people.

The Disability Rights Commissioner is a member of several COVID-19 leadership structures, and through proactive outreach to the community is able to convey concerns to appropriate channels, including to the Minister for Disability Issues.

The DPO Coalition has been providing advice to Government on the COVID-19 response and has been meeting with the Minister for Disability Issues. DPO organisations have been responding directly to the needs of their communities, and have taken a key role in supporting the availability and production of accessible information.


Source: Ombudsman, New Zealand

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