Human Rights

Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.

Universal human rights are often expressed and guaranteed by law, in the forms of treaties, customary international law, general principles and other sources of international law. International human rights law lays down obligations of Governments to act in certain ways or to refrain from certain acts, in order to promote and protect human rights and
fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups.

Understanding Cook Islands Laws

  • Pre Self Governance-

1888- British Protectorate
1901- NZ Protectorate
Laws made by NZ Parliament with some British Laws

  • Post Self Governance-

1965- Self-governing
Cook Islands Constitution- Supreme law
Laws made by Cook Islands Parliament


COOK ISLANDS CONSTITUTION

PART IVA

FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS

  • 64 (1) It is hereby recognised and declared that in the Cook Islands there exist, and shall continue to exist, without discrimination by reason of race, national origin, colour, religion, opinion, belief, or sex, the following fundamental human rights and freedoms-
  • (a) The right of the individual to life, liberty, and security of the person, and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with law;
  • (b) The right of the individual to equality before the law and to the protection of the law;
  • (c) The right of the individual to own property and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with law:
  • (d) Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion;
  • (e) Freedom of speech and expression;
  • (f) Freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
  • (2) It is hereby recognised and declared that every person has duties to others, and accordingly is subject in the exercise of his rights and freedoms to such limitations as are imposed, by any enactment or rule of law for the time being in force, for protecting the rights and freedoms of others or in the interests of public safety, order, or morals, the general welfare, or the security of the Cook Islands.

Our Decriminalisation Campaign

The four (4) ambits of the Cook Islands Decriminalisation Campaign:

  • Love and acceptance:-Freedom of religion is compatible with LGBTI equality: All of the major religions emphasize the importance of love and acceptance.
  • Human rights are universal. Everyone is entitled to the same rights.  Discrimination against LGBTI people is unacceptable and illegal under international human rights law.
  • There are no new rights for LGBTI people: We are simply stating that we should enjoy the same rights as everyone else.
  • It’s about decriminalisation not marriage equality at the moment.

Crime Act 1969 Sec. 154

  • Indecency between males– (1) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years who, bring a male,-
  • (a) Indecently assaults any other male; or
  • (b) Does any indecent act with or upon any other male; or
  • (c) Induces or permits any other male to do any indecent act with or upon him.
  • (2) No boy under the age of fifteen years shall be charged with committing or being a party to an offence against paragraph (b) or paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of this section, unless the other male was under the age of twenty-one years.
  • (3) It is not a defense to a charge under this section that the other party consented

Crime Act 1969 Sec. 155

  • Sodomy– (1) Everyone who commits sodomy is liable-
  • (a) Where the act of sodomy is committed on a female, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years;
  • (b) Where the act of sodomy is committed on a male, and at the time of the act that male is under the age of fifteen years and the offender is of over the age of twenty-one years, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years;
  • (c) In any other case, to imprisonment, for a term not exceeding seven years.
  • (2) This offence is complete upon penetration.
  • (3) Where sodomy is committed on any person under the age of fifteen years he shall not be charged with being a party to that offence, but he may be charged with being a party to an offence against section 154 of this Act in say case to which that section is applicable.
  • (4) It is no defence to a charge under this section that the other party consented.

Marriage Amendment Act 2000 & 2007

  1. Second Schedule The Second Schedule to the principal Act is amended by inserting after paragraph 4 the following new paragraph –

“5. A man may not marry another man and a woman may not marry another woman. “

  • 2007 Amendment.
  1. 2Marriage between persons of same gender prohibited– The principal Act is amended by inserting after section 15 the following-

“15A. Marriage between persons of same gender prohibited – (1) No person shall be permitted to marry another person who is of the same gender as him or herself.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1) a person who has been born as a male or as a female as the case may be, shall be deemed for the purposes of this Act always to be of that gender, notwithstanding that he or she may have undergone surgical or other medical treatment to give that person the physical characteristics of the opposite gender.”

Cook Islands Family law protection and support Act 2017

Te Tiare made a submission on this Act:

  1. In regards to Section 5 Definition of de facto relationship

Te Tiare would like the definition expanded to include same-sex couples and not just relationships between a man and a woman.

The reason why is because we feel that not including same-sex couples is discriminatory and places them in a vulnerable position in terms of family law if any issue should arise.

Unfortunately, our amendments to the Bill were not effected and no feedback was given.

Employment Relations Act

  • Section 55 the prohibited grounds of discrimination are— (a) race, ethnic origin, skin colour or appearance: (b) national origin: (c) opinion and belief: (d) religion: (e) gender or sexual preference: (f) disability: (g) age: (h) health status: (i) Maternity.
  • as per the Employment Relations Act 2012. This protection can however be limited by “doctrines, tenets, beliefs or teachings of a particular religion or creed,” according to section 53 of the same Act.
  • The National Gender Policy is currently under review Te Tiare are wanting to include SOGIE into the new policy.

Into the future:

  • Keep campaigning for recognition and no discrimination
  • Empowering our community.
  • Creating a better Cook Islands for our future generations