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Protection Against Slavery in New Zealand

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posted on 2021-11-15, 01:32 authored by Heesterman, Katja

The European Court of Human Rights decision in CN v The United Kingdom highlighted that slavery remains a modern problem. It may no longer resemble the traditional picture of slavery dramatically presented by Hollywood but it is no less on an issue. Modern slavery is less visible; it is hidden away within homes, normal workplaces or in overseas factories. This paper argues that New Zealand’s current treatment of slavery is inadequate exemplified by the absence of prosecutions. Thorough protection of slavery requires clear definitions that courts can easily apply. This paper explores how the Bill of Rights could be used to remedy this situation. This paper argues for the application of the Drittwirkung concept to give a horizontal effect to a right against slavery. Furthermore it is argued that New Zealand is under positive obligations to actively prevent rights violations, not merely avoid them. These positive obligations are a key component of modern human rights jurisprudence and can be read into the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. This paper speculates that one action courts could take is to undertake the development of a tort action against slavery.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Name

LL.B. (Honours)

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970118 Expanding Knowledge in Law and Legal Studies

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Research Paper or Project



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Law


Butler, Petra