Bouquets and brickbats for Australia on human rights
Australia has made progress in the area of human rights over the past year but faces challenges in its approach to refugees and asylum seekers, according to the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs.
In a statement to the 28th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, ProfessorTriggs praised the federal government for its support of a National Disability Insurance Scheme, the appointment of a full time human right commissioner and the launch of a national action plan on slavery and people trafficking.
But she said more work was needed in implementing human rights initiatives Australia had committed itself to and that the rights of refugees and asylum seekers had their rights under Australian law reduced over the past year.
“The commission has welcomed a number of positive developments over the past 12 months. We applaud the government of Australia for its continued support of a National Disability Insurance Scheme, the appointment of a full time human right commissioner and the launch of a national action plan on slavery and people trafficking,” Professor Triggs said in a video statement to the UN group on March 20.
“The parliamentary committee of human rights, the so called scrutiny committee, has continued to play a critical role in the protection of human rights in Australia by analysing proposed legislation compatibility with Australia’s human rights obligations,” she said.
“However Australia has fully implemented only 11 per cent of the UPR recommendations that it had earlier accepted whole or in part. There remain substantial weaknesses in Australia’s human rights protections.
“There’s been limited implementations of many actions contained in Australia’s National Action Plan on human rights and Australia has still not ratified the Optional Protocol for the Convention Against Torture.
“Australia’s policies in relation to refugees and asylum seekers continue to present challenges. Legislation introduced over the past year has further reduced the rights of asylum seekers and refugees under Australian law,” she said.
Professor Triggs said Australia’s second review was scheduled to take place in November this year.
“We very much look forward to continuing our constructive work with the Australian Government to implement the recommendations of the first review and to prepare for the coming second review,” she said.
The statement was an update to the Human Rights Council on the progress that Australia has made in 2014 in implementing recommendations made at the last Universal Periodic Review.
The Universal Periodic Review is a unique process whereby Australia’s human rights record is reviewed by all 193 member states of the United Nations.
AMES Staff Writer