In addition to respecting human rights at home, Australia has an important role to play in protecting and promoting human rights on the global stage. The Human Rights Law Centre considers that it is in the national interest that human rights be given greater priority and focus in Australian foreign policy.
The HRLC works to ensure that Australia adopts a human rights-based approach to foreign policy. Whether in the area of aid and development, military and security cooperation, or holding Australian corporations overseas to the same standards that the Australian community expects at home, Australian Governments should take a principled and consistent human rights-based approach to foreign policy.
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.
“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.
In a submission filed with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade consultation on a new Foreign Policy White Paper, the Human Rights Law Centre has urged Australia to raise the bar on its foreign policy and aim to be a principled and consistent leader in human rights and a staunch defender of international law.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should make the most of his seemingly close relationship with Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo to push for unfettered media access and human rights monitoring in Papua.
Australia is a multicultural success story and the contribution of refugees are a key part of that success. Australia has successfully accepted over 7 million migrants since 1945 including around 800,000 refugees and humanitarian entrants.
A joint parliamentary committee has today urged the Australian Government to do more to abolish the death penalty worldwide including prohibiting the Australian Federal Police from sharing information about drug crimes that could lead to imposition of the death penalty.
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.
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.
Australia must ensure that its opposition to the death penalty is consistently reflected across all its laws, policies and practices, the Human Rights Law Centre has told the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade’s Human Rights Sub-Committee. The Sub-Committee is currently inquiring into Australia’s advocacy for abolition of the death penalty.
Australia’s human rights performance will face intense scrutiny next week as the Government appears before the Human Rights Council in Geneva for its major four yearly human rights review. At the "Universal Periodic Review" (UPR) other countries will have the opportunity to question Australia about its human rights record and make a series of recommendations for improvement.
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.
Join us for a panel discussion in Melbourne about Australia's foreign policy ambitions and failures with Tim Costello, Andrew Hudson and Emily Howie.
In the lead up to Australia’s review by the UN Human Rights Council, the HRLC and other NGOs along with the Australian Human Rights Commission visited Geneva to brief UN member states on the human rights situation in Australia and key issues that should be considered as part of the review.
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.
Intense secrecy and speculation has shrouded the allegations that the Australian Government paid the crew of an asylum seeker boat headed for New Zealand to return to Indonesia. Here’s our take on what’s happened and what it means for our asylum seeker policy.
A group of leading Australian and international human rights organisations are calling for an overhaul to the way the Australian government campaigns to end the death penalty, today launching a new strategy document: ‘Australian Government and the Death Penalty: A Way Forward’.
The announcement from Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo that Indonesia will lift its decades-long ban on journalists travelling to its troubled Papuan provinces is a welcome step in the right direction.
The Australian Government has secretly returned 46 asylum seekers to Vietnam without any transparency or due process. Late on Friday 17 April, when news first broke that the asylum seekers were in Australian custody somewhere on the high seas, the Human Rights Law Centre sent a an urgent communication to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Australia’s steadily deteriorating human rights performance has been highlighted in a major report compiled by nearly 200 organisations around Australia. It will be presented to the United Nation’s peak human rights body in the lead up to a major review of Australia that takes place every four years.
The Government of Nauru should take urgent steps to respect and protect journalists, strengthen judicial independence and enact specific legislation protecting human rights defenders, the International Service for Human Rights and the Human Rights Law Centre said in a joint briefing paper on Nauru published today.
If Australia wants to pursue its own military drone program, far greater levels of transparency and rigorous safeguards are absolutely essential, the Human Rights Law Centre will tell the Senate's Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee during its inquiry into Australia's potential purchase of its own drones.
The election of a new Indonesian President presents the Australian Government with an opportunity to review its relationship with the Indonesian military.
Australia’s new approach to development assistance focuses on private sector development and pays insufficient attention to the human rights goals and obligations that should be central to our aid program.
The Australian Government should introduce laws that would minimise the risk of Australian policing or military assistance supporting human rights violators.
Australia has one last opportunity this week to publicly support a US-led initiative at the United Nations to end impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the final phases of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009.
A new report has found that Australia’s cooperation with Sri Lanka to prevent would-be-refugees from seeking protection is riddled with human rights risks and should be stopped immediately.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been asked to revoke his statement, made during his recent visit to Sri Lanka for the Commonwealth summit, that suggested that the use of torture can be justified in “difficult circumstances”.
If we don't stand against war crimes and crimes against humanity resulting in the death of 40,000 people, what do we stand for? asks the HRLC's Emily Howie
Australia must publicly acknowledge and condemn the human rights and rule of law crisis in Sri Lanka particularly given the escalation of international condemnation of Sri Lanka’s human rights record ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) in Colombo.