Holding Australia to account at the UN: HRLC briefs UN Human Rights Committee on Australia

Together with a group of leading human rights and community organisations, the HRLC has provided a private briefing to the UN Human Rights Committee on the state of human rights in Australia. On 30 October 2012, the HRLC joined with organisations including the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Kingsford Legal Centre, People with Disability Australia, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, the National Association of Community Legal Centres and Women's Legal Service, to brief the Committee by video conference in Geneva ahead of their upcoming periodic review of Australia’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

After a short opening statement, NGOs answered questions from Committee members on a range of key human rights issues, including:

  • Australia’s failure to incorporate the ICCPR into domestic law;
  • the Federal Government’s “Human Rights Framework”, including the operation of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights;
  • the consolidation of federal anti-discrimination laws;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights;
  • the rights of asylum seekers and refugees;
  • women’s rights;
  • disability and mental health;
  • counter terrorism laws and practices;
  • Australia’s extra-territorial obligations; and
  • prisons and policing.

The Committee’s List of Issues will be released in the coming weeks and the Australian Government’s response will be due within 6 months.  The Committee’s full review of Australia in Geneva is likely to take place in late 2013 or early 2014.