Respect for international human rights and the rule of law is essential for a fair, just and secure global community. Australia played a leading role in the establishment of the United Nations human rights framework and it is in our national interest to be a good global human rights citizen.
The Human Rights Law Centre works to ensure that Australia engages positively and constructively with United Nations human rights bodies. We also work to ensure that Australia respects, implements and is held to account for its international human rights obligations both at home and abroad.
The Australian Government has ratified an important UN torture prevention treaty. The Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) is a mechanism established to prevent cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in places of detention.
Overnight, a UN committee of independent human rights experts told Australia to end the indefinite limbo of the 2000 men, women and children being warehoused on Manus Island and Nauru by evacuating them to safety in Australia.
The tide of condemnation against Australia’s human rights record is rising, with the United Nations expert panel on racial discrimination, criticising Australia’s failure to combat racism in a report released overnight.
The UN expert committee on racial discrimination has demanded to know why Australia is out of step with the rest of the world in criminalising primary school aged children. All Australian states and territories currently have laws that allow children as young as ten years to be charged, brought before the courts, sentenced and imprisoned.
The UN expert committee on racial discrimination issued a please explain to the Australian Government overnight, asking how it will eliminate racial discrimination in the remote ‘work for the dole’ program imposed on remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
The Australian Government is bracing for another round of intense scrutiny at the United Nations – this time focusing on its efforts to combat racial discrimination.
Overnight the United Nations Human Rights Committee called on the Australian Government to improve its track record on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) rights across the country.
Australia was condemned overnight by a UN Human Rights Committee for its human rights record on a range of issues including refugees, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ rights, youth justice and democratic freedoms. Australia was condemned overnight by a UN Human Rights Committee for its human rights record on a range of issues including refugees, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ rights, youth justice and democratic freedoms. The UN Committee honed in on Australia’s cruelty to refugees as the crisis on Manus Island continues to escalate. The Committee urged the Government to evacuate every man currently held on Manus and bring them to safety in Australia.
The UN’s top expert on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions has included criticism of the Australian Government in a scathing global report condemning deterrence-based responses to people seeking asylum.
The Australian Government was again grilled last night at the United Nations in Geneva with the Human Rights Committee taking aim at the failure to scrap the cruel fines laws that resulted in Ms Dhu’s tragic death in custody.
Just one day after condemning the Australian Government’s “chronic non-compliance” with international human rights laws, in a further hearing overnight the expert Committee honed in on the Government’s cruelty to refugees and in particular its offshore detention regime. The Human Rights Committee described the policies as “shocking” and “disturbing”.
Overnight Australia was slammed by the UN Human Rights Committee for its “chronic non-compliance” with, and disengagement from, that Committee’s work. Australia’s record on human rights was found lacking as part of the Committee’s review into Australia’s protection of civil and political rights.
Hot on the heels of its appointment to the UN Human Rights Council, the Australian Government faced a grilling from UN experts about its own human rights performance. Our lawyers were in Geneva to help brief the Committee and present a report endorsed by 56 Australian organisations highlighting how Australia was failing to meet the standards it promised to uphold.
During the same week that Australia is expected to be granted a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, an expert UN committee will grill the Australian Government over its own human rights record.
“This is the most significant UN position Australia has sought since the Security Council. Relatively speaking Australia is likely to be a positive force for reform on the Council, but if it wants to have the credibility required to be a true human rights leader it can't continue to blatantly breach international law itself. There's no doubt that it's cruel treatment of refugees will hamstring Australia's efforts on Council," said Emily Howie.
The United Nations has been asked to urgently intervene to halt the Australian Government’s moves to make refugees and people seeking asylum destitute as a means of coercing them to return to danger and harm on Nauru or Manus Island.
Responding to reports that France has withdrawn its candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council – meaning Australia and Spain can be elected to the world’s peak human rights body unopposed – Emily Howie, a Director of Legal Advocacy at the HRLC, said Australia has work to do in order to fulfill the duties of a Council member.
The Australian Government must evacuate every man, woman and child currently warehoused on Manus and Nauru and bring them to safety in Australia, the United Nations said overnight.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to be denied basic rights the United Nations reported overnight.
Addressing the UN earlier this week in a statement to the Human Rights Council, the Human Rights Law Centre called on all UN member states to cooperate with the first United Nations independent expert tasked with combating the unacceptable violence and discrimination faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people around the world.
As the Australian Government campaigns for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families are being torn apart by punitive laws and a lack of investment in community-based prevention programs, the UN heard overnight.
The Australian government must immediately evacuate every person warehoused on Nauru and Manus to safety if it wants to be taken seriously as a human rights leader, the Human Rights Law Centre told the United Nations Human Rights Council in a statement delivered overnight.
The Human Rights Law Centre has urged Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to use his PNG trip – which comes at a critical juncture in Australia’s bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council - to make arrangements for refugees and people seeking asylum languishing on Manus Island to be immediately evacuated to safety.
“The push to weaken the laws by some has run aground. It’s hard to imagine what those pushing for change want people to be able to say that they currently can’t. Any move to weaken the law itself would have sent a green light to racism,” said the Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Legal Advocacy, Adrianne Walters.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, today condemned the Australian Government’s treatment of refugees and people seeking asylum, saying that Australia’s human rights record has been tarnished.
The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, unveiled a much-needed initiative to help combat the growing problem of governments preventing human rights defenders from engaging with the UN or punishing and even imprisoning them when they do so.
Australia is failing to provide a safe and free environment for civil society and to ensure that people are free to speak out and peacefully protest on issues that they care about, said a UN Human Rights expert today. Michel Forst, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, has been in Australia for a two-week official visit, meeting with government, MPs and civil society organisations.
Australia’s youth justice practices breach international human rights law, Amnesty International and the Human Rights Law Centre told the United Nations in a statement read before the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The secrecy provisions of the 2015 Border Force Act have compromised Australians’ basic democratic rights and damaged Australia’s international standing, the Human Rights Law Centre told the United Nations overnight in a statement to the Human Rights Council.
The UN’s human rights chief, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, called on Australia to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.