UN treaty's chilling implications for speech and media

Wed, 05 Dec, 2018

ACT’s Human Rights Spokesman Stephen Berry says the UN Global Compact for Migration will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression and the freedom of the press.

“ACT has always been an unabashed defender of free speech and a free press. This treaty has grave implications for both.

“The darkest aspect of the Compact is Objective 17 which deals with shaping public perceptions on migration through childhood education, the media, and public information campaigns.

“It implores nations to use ‘awareness-raising campaigns’ to ‘inform public perceptions regarding the positive contributions of safe, orderly and regular migration.’ This provides the perfect opportunity for propagandists at the Human Rights Commission to tell New Zealanders what to do and think.

“The Compact would require New Zealand to ‘enact, implement or maintain legislation that penalises hate crimes’ without specifying exactly what constitutes a hate crime. Countries that have enacted hate speech laws show they are used to silence and bully political opponents. Those who define intolerance are always the last people you would ever want to have such power.

“The UN also wants tougher media regulation including by: ‘sensitizing and educating media professionals on migration-related issues and terminology, investing in ethical reporting standards and advertising, and stopping allocation of public funding or material support to media outlets that systematically promote intolerance’. Journalists who report inconvenient facts about migration could find themselves persona non grata.

Mr Berry stresses that ACT’s long-standing support for immigration isn’t changed by his party’s opposition to signing the UN pact.

“With labour shortages in construction, dairy, and seasonal industries, New Zealand needs migrants in the right areas. However, we must reserve the right to welcome those who maintain their financial independence, contribute to national prosperity and respect New Zealand values of free speech, free association and property rights.

“The UN Global Compact for Migration strips New Zealand of control over its own borders, public policy direction and presents a genuine danger to the preservation of New Zealand’s values of free speech and individual liberty. ACT is opposed to signing and implementing this agreement.”