Torture and Ill-Treatment: UN Committee against Torture review of Australia

Australia is scheduled to be reviewed by the UN Committee against Torture for its compliance with the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 2013. This page contains a summary of the HRLC's key activities and developments in relation to this review.  

HRLC provides comments on Australia's Draft Report to the UN Committee against Torture (14 November 2012)

The HRLC has prepared a submission on Australia’s Draft Fifth Report to the UN Committee Against Torture in relation to compliance with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Draft Report).

The HRLC commends the Attorney-General's Department on the substantial work undertaken to prepared the Draft Report and respond to the Committee's List of Issues Prior to Reporting. This submission identifies aspects of the Draft Report that we consider to be inaccurate or misleading. Our comments are made in relation to: asylum seekers and refugees; violence against women; and independent inspections of places of detention.

The Government's Draft Report is available here.


HRLC outlines further issues for Australia to include in report to UN Committee against Torture (3 Nov 2011)

On 3 November 2011, the HRLC made a submission to the Australian Government outlining the issues of torture and ill-treatment that Australia should address in its forthcoming periodic report to the UN Committee against Torture, in addition to those already identified by the Committee in the List of Issues Prior to Reporting. The submission identifies five key issues which were not addressed in the LOIPR, but which the HRLC considers engage Australia's legal responsibilities in relation to torture and ill-treatment, being:

  • criminalisation and prevention of torture;
  • non-refoulement and bilateral and regional arrangements to address people smuggling;
  • treatment of prisoners and conditions of detention;
  • involuntary psychiatric treatment; and
  • violence against women.


UN Committee gives “Please Explain” list to Australia (21 Dec 2010)

In December 2010, the UN Committee against Torture issued a ‘List of Issues Prior to Reporting’ for Australia.

The purpose of this List is to outline those issues which the Committee would like Australia to address and respond to in its next periodic report to the Committee, due in 2012.

The issues on which the Committee specifically seeks information and responses from Australia include:

  • information regarding the legal entrenchment of human rights in Australia, including through a Human Rights Act and constitutional recognition of Indigenous people;
  • the human rights compatibility and impacts of counter-terrorism legislation, including in relation to the powers of ASIO and the AFP;
  • mechanisms for monitoring and oversight of places of detention, including prisons;
  • the right to health and access to adequate health care for detainees, including prisoners and persons detained in immigration facilities;
  • trafficking of women and children;
  • violence against women;
  • the operation and impact of laws that criminalise homelessness and poverty;
  • complementary protection and the prohibition against refoulement;
  • the operation and impact of Australia’s refugee and asylum seeker policies, including in relation to mandatory detention, offshore processing, and the detention of families and children;
  • the over-representation of Indigenous people and people with mental illness in the criminal justice and prison systems;
  • Australia’s extradition law, policy and practice; and
  • police use of force, the investigation of police-related deaths and police monitoring and accountability mechanisms.

The List of Issues Prior to Reporting is available at


HRLC submission to UN Committee against Torture on Australia for preparation of List of Issues Prior to Reporting (24 Aug 2010)

On 24 August 2010, the Centre provided a Submission to the UN Committee against Torture setting out a number of issues which we consider the Committee should include in its List of Issues for Australia Prior to Reporting in respect of Australia’s compliance with the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The Committee is likely to develop a List of Issues for Australia Prior to Reporting at its next session in November 2010.

In the Centre’s view, the Committee should seek for Australia to detail the human rights compatibility of domestic law, policy and practice in the following areas:

  • migration law, policy and practice, particularly in relation to refugees and asylum seekers;
  • prisoners’ rights and conditions of detention;
  • policing, police use of force and police-related deaths;
  • counter-terrorism law, policy and practice;
  • violence against women;
  • homelessness;
  • aspects of involuntary treatment of people with mental illness or disability;
  • the lack of domestic prosecution of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity; and
  • gaps in Australian law, policy and practice with respect to exposing persons to the death penalty or torture or ill-treatment abroad, whether through extradition, the provision of mutual assistance in criminal matters, or the provision of police to police agency assistance.