Showing posts with label Australia-UN relations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australia-UN relations. Show all posts

Sunday, 13 August 2017

United Nations mixed response to Australia's human rights record


“Attacks against the Australian Human Rights Commission

60. The Special Rapporteur was informed about the attacks made by some politicians against the Australian Human Rights Commission and, in particular, its President, Gillian Triggs, which are particularly troubling given the prestige and respectability this Commission enjoys internationally. Following the Commission’s inquiry into the harm caused by the detention of migrant children, its President has faced public intimidation, questioning her integrity, impartiality and judgment. On several occasions in the recent past, efforts to weaken the financial resources and capacity of the Commission have resulted in budget cuts, which have been amplified by the additional functions assigned to it.

61.For the Special Rapporteur, this situation is even more unacceptable given the fact that Australia sponsored Human Rights Council resolution 27/18 on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights, in which the Council states, in paragraph 9, that national human rights institutions and their respective members and staff should not face any form of reprisal or intimidation, including political pressure, physical intimidation, harassment or unjustifiable budgetary limitations, as a result of activities undertaken in accordance with their respective mandates, including when taking up individual cases or when reporting on serious or systematic violations in their countries.

62.The fact that the Commission handles more than 20,000 inquiries and 2,000 complaints each year, the vast majority of which are resolved to the satisfaction of all parties, confirms its exemplary work, particularly with respect to racism and racial discrimination. It should be held up by politicians, as well as journalists, as a good example of the functioning of democratic institutions in Australia.”

United Nations, Report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xe... by clarencegirl on Scribd


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

United Nations "shocked by the video footage that has emerged from Don Dale youth detention centre in the Northern Territory in Australia"


Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location: Geneva
Date:  29 July 2016  

(2) Australia

We are shocked by the video footage that has emerged from Don Dale youth detention centre in the Northern Territory in Australia, showing children as young as 10, many of whom are Aboriginal children, being held in inhumane conditions and treated cruelly. Some children were held in isolation for extended periods, sometimes for several weeks, in hot and dark cells with no access to fresh air or running water. In one incident, six children were tear-gassed by prison guards. The videos, from 2014, show another child hooded and strapped to a chair for several hours. Others are shown being repeatedly assaulted and stripped naked. According to the children’s testimony, these abuses took place over several years. Most of the children who were held at the detention facility are deeply traumatized. The treatment these children have been subjected to could amount to a violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, to which Australia is a party.

Article 37 of the CRC stipulates that “every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age.”
The announcement by the Government of an investigation into youth detention in the Northern Territory is an important step. We encourage the Government to extend the scope of the investigation beyond the Northern Territory in order to establish that such appalling treatment is not taking place in any other place of detention in Australia. We call on the authorities to identify those who committed abuses against the children and to hold them responsible for such acts. The children who were abused at Don Dale should receive psychosocial rehabilitation to overcome the trauma they have suffered. Compensation should also be provided.

We also call on Australia to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. This important instrument focuses on the prevention of torture. Under the Protocol, Australia would establish a National Preventive Mechanism which conducts regular visits to all places of detention in the country. Events at Don Dale clearly show the immediate need to establish such a system of regular visits to ensure that what happened at Don Dale never happens again in Australia.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

WA Parliament votes the state back into colonial era


United Nations press release, 15 February 2016:

UN human rights experts urge Western Australia’s Parliament not to pass proposed anti-protest law

GENEVA (15 February 2016) – Three United Nations human rights experts have urged the State Parliament of Western Australia not to adopt new legislation which would result in criminalising lawful protests and silencing environmentalists and human rights defenders.

Members of the regional parliament have indicated that the Bill aims at preventing protestors from locking themselves onto equipment, trees, and other objects with innovative methods in order to frustrate or delay development sites. The anti-protest Bill is scheduled to be debated on Tuesday 16 February. 

“If the Bill passes, it would go against Australia’s international obligations under international human rights law, including the rights to freedom of opinion and expression as well as peaceful assembly and association,” said the UN Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression, David Kaye, on freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, Maina Kiai, and on human rights defenders, Michel Forst. 
  
“The Bill would criminalise a wide range of legitimate conduct by creating criminal offenses for the acts of physically preventing a lawful activity and possessing an object for the purpose of preventing a lawful activity,” they explained. “For example, peaceful civil disobedience and any non-violent direct action could be characterized as ‘physically preventing a lawful activity.’”

The experts noted that, under the proposed legislation, an offense would carry serious penalties of imprisonment of one year and a fine of 12,000 Australian dollars (US $8,540). If the offense is committed in circumstances of aggravation, the penalty for preventing a lawful activity could be as high as imprisonment for two years and a fine of 24,000 Australian dollars (US 
$17080).

“The proposed legislation will have the chilling effect of silencing dissenters and punishing expression protected by international human rights law. Instead of having a necessary legitimate aim, the Bill’s offense provisions disproportionately criminalize legitimate protest actions,” Mr. Kaye warned.

Special Rapporteur Kiai stressed that the passage of the Bill would grant police disproportionate and unnecessary powers to restrict lawful protests, primarily against environmental activists trying to raise awareness of key environmental issues. “It discourages legitimate protest activity and instead, prioritizes business and government resource interests over the democratic rights of individuals,” he noted.

“Human rights defenders have a legitimate right to promote and protect all human rights, including the right to a healthy environment, regardless of whether their peaceful activities are seen by some as frustrating development projects or are costlier for the police to address,” Mr. Forst underscored.

“Environmentalists and land rights defenders are already among the ones most at risk, and the State is obligated to protect and support them,” said the Special Rapporteur who will carry out his first official visit to Australia later this year.

In September 2014, the three UN human rights experts had urged the Tasmanian Government to withdraw a similar anti-protest bill, which also targets environmental protestors. The experts remain concerned over the implementation of the Tasmanian law.

Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Mr. Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. 

Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

The CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT (PREVENTION OF LAWFUL ACTIVITY) BILL 2015 went to its Third Reading  in the West Australian Legislative Council on 18 February 2016 and was returned to the Legislative Assembly to become law.

If West Australian voters would like to know who to blame for this situation, they can begin with the following upper house politicians:

Hon Martin Aldridge, Hon Kate Doust, Hon Nigel Hallett, Hon Helen Morton, Hon Ken Baston, Hon Phil Edman, Hon Alyssa Hayden, Hon Simon O’Brien, Hon Liz Behjat, Hon Sue Ellery, Hon Col Holt, Hon Martin Pritchard, Hon Jacqui Boydell, Hon Brian Ellis, Hon Peter Katsambanis, Hon Sally Talbot, Hon Paul Brown, Hon Donna Faragher, Hon Mark Lewis, Hon Ken Travers, Hon Jim Chown, Hon Adele Farina, Hon Rick Mazza, Hon Samantha Rowe (Teller), Hon Alanna Clohesy, Hon Nick Goiran, Hon Robyn McSweeney, Hon Peter Collier, Hon Dave Grills, Hon Michael Mischin.

Friday, 13 March 2015

A petulant Australian Prime Minister spits his dummy in public - again


Australians are sick of being lectured to by the United Nations according to the petulant Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

I rather think that what a great many Australians are sick of is this country being put in a position where it is in breach of international law.

I suspect many would also be critical of the Abbott Government's obvious reluctance to fully explain its actions to the United Nations (UN).

This is the section of the UN report, covering sixty-eight nations, that has the prime minister spitting his dummy in public.

The reader can decide if the following constitutes being "lectured to".


Australia (a) JAL 27/03/2014 Case No. AUS 1/2014 State Reply: 26/05/2014 Allegations of indefinite detention of asylum seekers, detention conditions, alleged detention of children, and escalating violence and tension at the Regional Processing Centre.

16. The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Australia for its reply, dated 26.05.2014, to the present communication.

17. The Rapporteur welcomes the Government’s initiatives to investigate and review the events of 16- 18 February; however, he regrets that the Government has not to this date submitted, as announced in its initial reply, any substantive reply.

18. The Rapporteur hence finds that the Government, in its reply, does not sufficiently address the concerns, legal obligations, and questions raised in the initial communication, which prompts him to infer that the Government fails to fully and expeditiously cooperate with the mandate issued by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 25/13, as well as to comply with its obligation, under international customary law, to investigate, prosecute and punish all acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as codified, inter alia, in the Convention against Torture (CAT).

19. In the absence of information to the contrary, the Rapporteur concludes that there is substance in the allegations presented in the initial communication, reiterated above, and thus, that the Government of Australia, by failing to provide adequate detention conditions; end the practice of detention of children; and put a stop to the escalating violence and tension at the Regional Processing Centre, has violated the right of the asylum seekers, including children, to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as provided by articles 1 and 16 of the CAT.

(a) UA 08/07/2014 Case No. AUS 2/2014 State Reply: 10/07/2014 Allegations concerning the situation of two groups of Sri Lankan asylum seekers and migrants (203 in total), including a significant number of Tamils, and their incommunicado detention and imminent deportation to Sri Lanka by the Australian Government, in contravention of Australia’s non-refoulement obligations.

20. The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Australia for its reply, dated 10 July 2014, to the present communication.

21. The Rapporteur finds that the Government, in its reply, does not sufficiently address the concerns, legal obligations, and questions raised in the initial communication, which prompts him to infer that the Government fails to fully and expeditiously cooperate with the mandate issued by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 25/13, as well as to comply with its obligation, under international customary law, to investigate, prosecute and punish all acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as codified, inter alia, in the Convention against Torture (CAT). The Government in July 2014, stating that these matters were currently before the High Court of Australia. The Special Rapporteur has not received any communication since.

22. It has come to the attention of the Special Rapporteur that, as of the drafting of this report, the extradition of the two groups of Sri Lankan asylum seekers and migrants, has not taken place. The Rapporteur strongly urges the Government of Australia to protect the right of these 203 migrants to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as provided by articles 1 and 16 of the CAT, and to refrain from deporting these individuals to Sri Lanka where they risk torture, thereby ensuring compliance with article 3 of the CAT.

(b) JUA 17/11/2014 Case No. AUS 4/2014 State Reply: 16/12/2014 Allegations concerning acts of intimidation and ill-treatment of two asylum-seekers, following their statements regarding the violent attacks against asylum-seekers, which allegedly took place between 16 and 18 February 2014 at the Manus Regional Processing Centre, and immigration detention centre located in Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, whose internal security is operated by a company on behalf of the Australian Government.

23. The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Australia for its reply, dated 16 December 2014, to the present communication.

24. The Rapporteur takes note of the information provided by the Government that the allegations concerning the ill-treatment of Mr. A and Mr. B are subject to domestic legal proceedings currently before the High Court of Australia. He welcomes the Australian Governments adoption of 9 out of the 13 recommendations in the report “Review into the events of 16-18 February 2014 at the Manus Regional Processing Centre”, that was released on 23 May 2014. In spite of the information supplied by the Government, its reply fails to inform the Rapporteur about the status and progress of the case concerning Mr. A and Mr. B.

25. The Rapporteur finds that the Government, in its reply, does not sufficiently address all of the concerns, legal obligations, and questions raised in the initial communication, which prompts him to infer that the Government fails to fully and expeditiously cooperate with the mandate issued by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 25/13, as well as to comply with its obligation, under international customary law, to investigate, prosecute and punish all acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as codified, inter alia, in the Convention Against Torture (CAT).

26. In the absence of sufficient information to the contrary, the Rapporteur concludes that there is substance in the allegations presented in the initial communication, reiterated above, and thus, that the Government of Australia, by failing to provide any additional information or details of the investigation into Mr. A and Mr. B’s allegations, has violated their right to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as provided by article 1 and 16 of the CAT.

(c) JOL 17/11/2014 Case No. AUS 5/2014 State Reply: 23/12/2014 Allegations concerning the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 and the Migration Amendment (Character and General Visa Cancellation) Bill 2014 which are reportedly being scrutinized by the Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee.

27. The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Australia for its reply, dated 23 December 2014, to the present communication.

28. The Rapporteur acknowledges the comprehensive account of the Government in response to the concerns, legal obligations and questions raised in the initial communication.

29. He takes note of the information provided by the Government that the Migration Amendment (Character and General Visa Cancellation) Bill 2014 and the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 passed both Houses of Parliament on 26 November 2014 and 15 December 2014, respectively.

30. Notwithstanding, the Rapporteur surmises that both bills put Australia at risk of violating the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment, which has passed both the house and the Senate of Australia at this point, violates the CAT because it allows for the arbitrary detention and refugee determination at sea, without access to lawyers. The Migration Amendment (Character and General Visa Cancelation Bill violates the CAT because it tightens control on the issuance of visas on the basis of character and risk assessments.

31. The Rapporteur concludes that the Government of Australia, by failing to amend the provisions of the two bills to comply with the State’s obligations under international human rights law, particularly with regard to the rights of migrants, and asylum seekers, including children, has violated the rights of migrants and asylum seekers to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as provided by articles 1, 3, and 16 of the CAT.