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 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.
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Responding to reports that France has withdrawn its candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council – meaning Australia and Spain can be elected to the world’s peak human rights body unopposed – Emily Howie, a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.
The United Nations Human Rights Council is on the cusp of establishing an Independent Expert to tackle violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Human Rights Law Centre joined in a statement delivered to the Council in Geneva overnight supported by 627 civil society organisations representing 151 countries.
Each year the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) hosts the Global Forum on Responsible Business Conduct where representatives from civil society, business, governments and trade unions meet to discuss and promote better business practices.
The Australian Government’s response overnight at the UN in Geneva to a major review of its human rights record has failed to address the serious concerns raised by the international community.
As Australia undermines international efforts to address Burma’s significant human rights challenges, it also misses an opportunity to establish its credentials as a global human rights leader, the Human Rights Law Centre has warned today.
Three UN human rights experts urged the Western Australian parliament not to adopt a proposed law that would criminalise peaceful protests and silence environmentalists and human rights defenders.
The HRLC’s Director of Advocacy and Research, Emily Howie, said that the Australia needs to improve its human rights record and that the HRLC has advocated for the establishment of an Australian human rights ambassador to promote and coordinate human rights within and across foreign policy since 2009.
The United Nations has intervened in the plight of 267 vulnerable people that the Australian Government intends to deport to offshore camps, warning the Government to adhere to its obligations under the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention against torture and other cruel treatment.
Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers received unprecedented condemnation from the international community as the Government appeared before the Human Rights Council in Geneva overnight for its major four yearly human rights review in a process known as the ‘Universal Periodic Review’.
As the UN celebrates it's 70th birthday, the HRLC's Anna Brown looks at Australia’s involvement in the success and also the need to confront the current weakness of our leadership on human rights.
The HRLC has joined with Human Rights Watch to produce a report detailing how Australia can “lift its game” on human rights at home and abroad in order to strengthen its bid for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council.