NGO Report to UN Committee Against Torture 2014

In a detailed joint report, a coalition of non-government organisations has assessed Australia’s track record against the UN’s Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which Australia signed up to in 1985. The report – endorsed by organisations such as People with Disability Australia, Save the Children and the Refugee Council of Australia – finds that overall, Australia’s standards are declining.

The report was prepared by the Human Rights Law Centre for the UN’s Committee Against Torture ahead of its review of Australia’s compliance with the Convention schedule to take place in November. The Committee, made up of independent international experts, will consider Australia’s track record and make a series of findings and recommendations.

A media release about the report can be found here.

Mandatory disclosure laws a risk to victims of family violence - Letter to Victorian AG

The Human Rights Law Centre has written to Attorney General, Robert Clark, to express its concerns about the Crimes Amendment (Protection of Children) Bill 2014.  

The HRLC is concerned about the impact of the proposed laws on women and children experiencing family violence and considers that they would constitute unjustifiable limitations on human rights contained in the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006.

Child abuse is a critical issue that must be addressed as a matter of urgency and priority. However, clause four of the Bill, which creates a new ‘failure to disclose’ offence where a person does not disclose a sexual offence committed against a child, is not appropriately adapted to achieve this aim and risks punishing women who are themselves victims of violence.

A copy of the HRLC's letter to the AG can be found here along with Attachment 1.

Response to Victoria’s review of rape laws

In October 2013, the Victorian Department of Justice released a consultation paper outlining a number of options for reforming laws relating to sexual offences, including creating a new requirement that if an accused person’s defence relies on a belief that the alleged victim had consented, then that belief must be held on reasonable grounds.

The Human Rights Law Centre has expressed support for proposed changes to sexual assault legislation and is urging the Department to consider further changes to ensure adjudication in rape trials is fair, impartial and free from gender stereotyping and discrimination.

Click here for a copy of the HRLC's submission in response to the consultation paper.