New Zealand's justice system is 'broken', Andrew Little tells United Nations

Andrew Little has condemned New Zealand's justice system before the United Nations.

The Justice Minister stood before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) in Geneva on Monday night (NZ time) where he confronted criticism made about New Zealand's track record.

"It's fair to say that our justice system is broken," Mr Little said, going on to suggest that New Zealand is also failing its women and indigenous population.

"We have some of the highest incarceration rates per capita in the world and it has risen in recent years. Maori are disproportionately represented at every stage of our criminal justice system both as offenders and victims."

Prison numbers hit new highs under the previous National-led Government, but the coalition has talked of trying to cut it by as much as 30 percent, whilst lowering crime rates at the same time.

Mr Little said New Zealand is "struggling with prison capacity and prisoner violence", and said the "damaging effects of colonisation are still being felt today with Maori facing considerable disadvantages".

Iran, Russia, Indonesia and Egypt were among nations represented at the forum to criticise New Zealand's human rights record. Iran said New Zealand needs a better strategy to thwart "religious hatred" and racism.

This is the third time New Zealand's human rights record is being judged in what's known as the Universal Periodic Review. Former Justice Minister Judith Collins last fronted the forum in 2014 where she talked about reducing family violence.

New Zealand's latest UN human rights review is being overseen by Brazil, Slovakia, and Saudi Arabia, despite the latter Arab kingdom being widely criticised over its human rights record, particularly in regards to women.

The final report on New Zealand's human rights record in 2019 will be prepared by those three nations, known as the 'troika', with assistance from the UNHCR.

The recommendations are not legally binding.