Amnesty: Global failure of human rights leadership extends to Australia

According to Amnesty International Australia’s National Director, Claire Mallinson, Australia's human rights record during 2011 was characterised by the Government’s attempt to repackage unsuccessful policies of the past and neglected opportunities. Commenting on the release of Amnesty’s 2012 Word Report, The state of the world’s human rights, Ms Mallinson said Australia must stop trying to outsource its responsibilities.

“This short-term approach undermines Australia’s ability to develop a regional solution and the repackaging of [asylum seeker] policies is harking back to the grim days of the 'Pacific Solution'. Politicians must consider the global circumstances, such as the conflict in Afghanistan, which are forcing mass numbers of people to seek asylum from persecution and violence,” said Ms Mallinson.

Another key concern of the report was the proposed Stronger Futures legislation for Australia’s Indigenous communities, legislation which Ms Mallinson described as essentially being the Intervention under a new name.

“The Government continues to violate the rights of Aboriginal Peoples, excluding traditional homelands from essential services and implementing a chain of policies that is further disenfranchising Aboriginal Peoples in the Northern Territory.

Indigenous Peoples were found to account for roughly 2.5 per cent of Australia’s population, however comprise 26 per cent of the adult prison population; this is reflective of a parliamentary committee report on Aboriginal youth and justice demonstrating a jump of 66 per cent in Aboriginal imprisonment rates between 2000 and 2009.

The report emphasises that despite the Australian Government’s “good start” in supporting the Aboriginal Peoples to live on their ancestral homelands by committing $221 million in funding, there is a strong need to start better allocating funding to reflect living circumstances and fill the emerging gap between policy and practice.

Despite Australia’s effort to comply with international human rights, the report cites the rejection of the introduction of a Human Rights Act, the rejection of marriage equality as well as the continuation of mandatory migration detention to support its conclusion that Australia has taken a conservative measured approach to adopting human rights in full.