CAT: UN Committee Against Torture's Concluding Observations on Australia

The UN Committee Against Torture has issued its Concluding Observations on Australia following a review of Australia’s compliance with the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment at its 40th Session in Geneva in May 2008. The Human Rights Law Resource Centre prepared a major Report on Australia's Compliance with the Convention against Torture (April 2008) [PDF] to assist the Committee to constructively review and make recommendations regarding Australia.

The HRLRC Report considers and makes recommendations regarding the following areas of Australian law, policy and practice which may raise issues of incompatibility with the Convention against Torture:

  1. the inadequate protection of human rights, including the prohibition against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, under Australian domestic law;
  2. immigration and asylum-seeker law, policy and practice;
  3. Australia’s law and policy in relation to refoulement, extradition and expulsion;
  4. the impact of the criminal justice system on Indigenous Australians;
  5. Australia’s treatment of prisoners and conditions of detention, including in particular the lack of access to adequate health care;
  6. Australia’s counter-terrorism law and practice, including in relation to incommunicado detention, and the use of preventative detention and control orders;
  7. the use of evidence obtained under torture or pursuant to other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
  8. Australia’s failure to investigate and remedy allegations of torture; and
  9. Australia’s failure to adequately protect its citizens from the death penalty and other forms of ill-treatment.

The Report makes a range of recommendations to ensure that Australian law, policy and practice in each of these areas is consistent with Australia’s obligations under the Convention.

The HRLRC Report consolidates and updates two previous submissions made jointly by the Human Rights Law Resource Centre and the National Association of Community Legal Centres to the Committee to assist its scrutiny of Australia:

  1. HRLRC/NACLC Submission to CAT dated 6 July 2007 [PDF]
  2. HRLRC/NACLC Submission to CAT dated 9 October 2007 [PDF]

A joint press release regarding these submissions was made on 4 November 2007.

A number of other Australian NGOs have also made submissions:

  1. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Comments dated February 2007
  2. Amnesty International Shadow Report dated November 2007

The Human Rights Law Resource Centre, NACLC, NSW Council for Civil Liberties and Amnesty International have also published a range of thematic Fact Sheets regarding issues relevant to Australia's implementation of, and compliance with, the Convention:

  1. Australia's Immigration Law, Policy and Practice [PDF]
  2. Australia's Counter-Terrorism Laws and Measures [PDF]
  3. Australia's Treatment of Prisoners and Prison Conditions [PDF]
  4. Australia's Failure to Investigate Torture [PDF]
  5. Australia's Domestic Implementation of the Convention against Torture [PDF]
  6. Indigenous Australians and the Convention against Torture [PDF]

The following documents relevant to the review are also available:

  1. Third and Fourth Periodic Report of Australia to the Committee Against Torture dated April 2005
  2. Committee Against Torture List of Issues for Australia dated 6 June 2007