The New Zealand justice system has been called racist. Underpinning that accusation are some powerful statistics.
More than half of the prison population is Māori but Māori comprise only 15% of the general population. Māori are prosecuted and convicted at a higher rate than anyone else and sentences are eight times higher for Māori than for Pakeha.
While critics argue that there are socio-economic factors at play and vicious cycles of gang-related culture to factor in, multiple responses have been initiated to try and address the apparent inequity and the New Zealand Race Relations Commissioner has raised concerns.
Police have introduced ‘unconscious bias’ training to make sure individual officers are aware of any prejudice they might harbor, a parallel justice system has been introduced for Māori to try and reduce reoffending, and there have been calls for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the system as a whole.
Similar arguments, backed by statistics showing similar disproportions, have been put forward to allege ‘unconscious bias’ and ‘institutional racism’ in other government institutions and corporates around the democratic world; and similar training programmes have been adopted as the apparent scourge of ‘hidden racism’ becomes front-of-mind for officials and managers.
However, it is striking that there are few, if any, world leaders willing to acknowledge a far more clear-cut case of ‘institutional racism’, where not only are the systemic issues readily apparent but there is strong evidence of identifiably racist contributors to the discrimination.
For example, each year there are more than 20 times the number of United Nations General Assembly resolutions singling out Israel than there are against all of the other 192 member states combined, and the content of the resolutions against Israel allow for no praise as there is for other nations. The United Nations Human Rights Council routinely singles out only one country for specific condemnation – Israel. The United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation ignores Jewish indigeneity to Israel. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency teaches children to hate Jews and incites violence against Israel.
Previous United Nations Secretaries General have commented on the anti-Israel bias of the UN. Some democratic countries have also made comments and even gone so far as removing their representatives from Councils and withholding or withdrawing funding from UN bodies.
And, in terms of the identifiable actors, there are more than thirty nations that officially do not even recognise Israel – unless it is to cast a condemnatory vote. Some of those nations have explicitly called for the destruction of the Jewish state, called Israel a ‘cancer’, and leaders of some UN member states have perpetuated the worst forms of antisemitism.
Our government has failed to recognise the ‘systemic racism’ in the United Nations. Indeed, they have contributed to it. On the resolutions against Israel, New Zealand has voted more like Saudi Arabia and Iran than Canada or Australia. And MFAT officials have tried to justify the ongoing Kiwi tax money that is sent to UN-run schools that teach antisemitism.
The Human Rights Commission was quick to call the New Zealand Police ‘racist’ – with a subsequent apology and clarification that they thought the service was just ‘systemically racist’. When will there be a comment about New Zealand officials’ support for the clear systemic racism of the United Nations?