Two week India travel ban starts today; Human Rights Commission asks for justification

Author
Newstalk ZB / RNZ,
Publish Date
Sun, 11 Apr 2021, 10:14AM
Travellers who have been in India in the past two weeks will not be able to enter NZ. (Photo / Getty)
Travellers who have been in India in the past two weeks will not be able to enter NZ. (Photo / Getty)

Two week India travel ban starts today; Human Rights Commission asks for justification

Author
Newstalk ZB / RNZ,
Publish Date
Sun, 11 Apr 2021, 10:14AM

A two-week ban on all travellers arriving from India starts today.

The temporary ban means travellers who have been in India in the past two weeks cannot enter the country.

It was announced by the Prime Minister on Thursday and came after a surge in Covid-19 cases being reported at the New Zealand border, from people who had been in India.

This was despite pre-flight testing showing the travellers did not have the virus 72 hours before leaving.

Yesterday of the 10 new cases in managed isolation, eight were from India.

While the ban until 28 April is legal, the Human Rights Commissioner has asked the government for a clearer justification on the decision, RNZ reports. 

Chief Human Rights commissioner Paul Hunt said more information was needed on the reasons behind the suspension, which will be in place from April 11 to April 28.

It is the first time New Zealand has stopped citizens or residents from returning.

"While a public health emergency is a justification for limits to be placed on the free movement of people, any limitation on the rights of New Zealanders to return home must be clearly justified by the Government in accordance with its domestic and international human rights obligations," Hunt said.

The commission could not assess whether the ban was lawful, unless the Government was transparent about its decision, he said.

New Zealand has agreed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter their own country.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has said there are "few, if any, circumstances in which deprivation of the right to enter one's own country could be reasonable".

Hunt said, "Temporarily banning New Zealanders from returning home from India is a significant limitation on their freedom of movement.

"Clear justification for the limitation on this basic right is vital.

"Regular review of the suspension is also crucial."

On 9 April, almost two-thirds of Covid-19 cases detected in managed isolation during the previous 30 days were from India.

Meanwhile, India has reported a record daily number of coronavirus infections - more than 145,000, and 794 deaths - its largest tally in more than five months.

The severe second wave is being blamed on a reluctance to wear masks, and on crowding.

The massive Hindu festival, the Kumbh Mela, is continuing on the banks of the Ganges river, with millions expected there next week.

Text by RNZ