Women's Rights: Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women releases Concluding Observations on Australia

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has released its Concluding Observations following a review of Australia’s compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The Committee comments on a number of positive developments in Australia and welcomes the enactment of the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010, the ratification of the Optional Protocol to CEDAW and measures adopted to combat trafficking and support victims of trafficking.  The Committee acknowledges the progress made in promoting women in leadership positions and notes that two of Australia’s highest public offices are occupied by women.  

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Race Discrimination: UN Committee Releases Report and Recommendations on Australia

A high-level UN committee has found that Australia needs to take urgent measures to address racism and racial discrimination, disadvantage and inequality. On 27 August 2010, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination released its Concluding Observations following a review of Australia’s compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

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United Nations spotlights racism in Australia

This Tuesday 10 August 2010 the Australian Government will attend a hearing at the United Nations in Geneva to explain some of its most controversial policies to an expert body on racism. The UN Committee on Racial Discrimination has asked Australia to provide it with information on how Australia is performing its legal obligations to respect, protect and promote the human right to equality and freedom from racial discrimination.

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CERD: NGO Report for Review of Australia

Australia is scheduled to be reviewed by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in relation to its compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in Geneva in August 2010. In July 2010, the Human Rights Law Resource Centre, together with the National Association of Community Legal Centres, submitted a major NGO submission on Australia to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

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NGO Report on Australia under Universal Periodic Review: Request for Endorsements by 9 July (30 June 2010)

Australia is to be reviewed by the UN Human Rights Council through the Universal Periodic Review process in January 2011. A coalition of NGOs has prepared a 5 page report on human rights in Australia, setting out key issues and concrete recommendations.  The principal authors of the report are the Human Rights Law Resource Centre, Kingsford Legal Centre and the National Association of Community Legal Centres.

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Asia-Pacific: Centre Influences New Framework for ‘Australia’s Law and Justice Engagement with the Pacific'

The Attorney-General and Minister for Foreign Affairs recently launched Australia’s Framework for Law and Justice in the Pacific.  The Framework is a high-level statement of priorities intended to guide Australia’s work in the Pacific law and justice sector. The Framework commits Australia to help Pacific countries strengthen the rule of law and protect human rights. 

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Right to Life: Submission on Investigation of Police Related Deaths

On 18 June 2010, the Centre made a Submission to the Office of Police Integrity inquiry into the investigation of deaths associated with police contact.  The HRLRC submitted that in order to discharge its obligations under the Victorian Charter, the Government needs to establish a human rights-compliant framework for the investigation of deaths associated with police contact. The Victorian Government needs to establish an Independent Body which is hierarchically, institutionally and practically independent of the organisation being investigated, both in theory and in practice.

The Independent Body must be adequately empowered and resourced to, where necessary, conduct the primary investigation of the death, in place of the investigative role currently undertaken by the Homicide Squad.  Investigations must be placed in the hands of the Independent Body as soon as practicable, ideally within one hour of a death associated with police contact.

Investigations must be conducted with genuine independence.  This should involve procedural safeguards, such as separating police officers until they are interviewed by the Independent Body.  It is important that police officers (either witnesses or suspects) are interviewed as soon as practicable, preferably within 24 hours after the incident, unless there are exceptional and justifiable circumstances.  Interviews must be recorded electronically.  Police officers involved in the relevant event should be required to cooperate with the investigation and provide all relevant accounts and documents regarding the event.

Finally, independent review mechanisms must be established to permit public scrutiny of investigations and their results.  Specifically, the victim and/or next-of-kin must have an enforceable right to be involved in the investigation to the extent necessary to safeguard their legitimate interests.

A copy of the submission can be found here.