Torture and Ill-Treatment: UN Committee Presents "Please Explain" List to Australia

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.

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Victorian Attorney-General Should Commit to Strengthen Charter and Protection of Human Rights

On 10 December 2010, a coalition of over 70 human rights NGOs, community organisations, corporations and religious groups wrote to the new Victorian Attorney-General, the Hon Robert Clark MP, calling on him to strengthen the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act. The signatories wrote that, overall, the Charter has had a positive impact on:

  • governmental transparency and accountability;
  • legislative and policy development, including by integrating human rights considerations and safeguards into laws and processes; and
  • public service delivery and outcomes.
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NGOs call on Australian Government to make "voluntary commitments" ahead of UPR in January

A large coalition of Australian non-government organisations has written a letter to the Australian Government encouraging it to consider making a number of “voluntary commitments” ahead of the Universal Periodic Review of Australia in January 2011. As part of the UPR process, states are encouraged to make “voluntary commitments”, which are concrete pledges to take certain action to promote human rights prior to appearing before the UPR.  The letter identifies that making voluntary commitments is an opportunity for Australia to demonstrate international human rights leadership through tangible, concrete means.

The NGO coalition has proposed 19 specific, achievable pledges in the following areas:

  • Australia’s general legal framework;
  • equality and non-discrimination laws;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights;
  • women’s rights;
  • immigration and asylum seeker laws;
  • people with disability;
  • housing and homelessness; and
  • Australia’s international aid and development assistance.

 

 

Have Your Say on a Charter of Human Rights for Tasmania

On 20 October 2010, the Tasmanian Government released a ‘Directions Paper’ proposing a Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities for Tasmania.  The Government is seeking responses to the paper by 14 January 2011. This is your chance to have your say on the promotion and protection of human rights and to learn from and build on Charters of Rights in Victoria and the ACT.

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Asylum Seekers: Right to Protection and Non-Refoulement

On 29 September 2010, the Human Rights Law Resource Centre sent a letter to to the Australian Government calling for the urgent enactment of legislation to provide complementary protection to asylum seekers at risk of persecution, torture or death if deported. Further, on 5 November 2010, the HRLRC, together with a coalition of leading refugee law academics and NGOs, sent a Briefing Note to Members of Parliament regarding the extension of protection to people at risk of torture and other serious human rights violations.

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Strengthening the UN Human Rights Council: HRLRC Position Papers and Statement to UN Working Group

The work, functioning and status of the UN Human Rights Council will be reviewed in 2011.  An open-ended working group established by the Council to discuss this review is scheduled for 25 to 29 October 2010. On 20 October 2010, the HRLRC made a Submission to the Working Group on the Review of the UN Human Council Review in Geneva.

The submission considers ways to strengthen the Council and make it more effective in promoting and protecting human rights on the ground.

To this end, the submission makes recommendations in the following areas:

  • focus and conduct of the 2011 review of the Human Rights Council;
  • responding to human rights situations of concern;
  • strengthening the membership of the Human Rights Council;
  • protecting and strengthening the special procedures;
  • enhancing the operation of the Universal Periodic Review;
  • enhancing the engagement of NHRIs and NGOs with the Human Rights Council; and
  • improving follow-up and implementation of reports and recommendations.

In addition to the Submission above, the HRLRC also made:

 

A Fairer Australia: Key Human Rights Priorities for the Gillard Government

On 14 September 2010, the Human Rights Law Resource Centre wrote to the Attorney-General, the Hon Rob McClelland, urging that the promotion and protection of human rights be a key aim and instrument of the Gillard Government. The Centre set out ten policies which the Government should commit to and implement as a matter of priority and urgency for a fairer Australia.

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Housing Rights: HRLRC Seeks Leave to Intervene in Director of Housing v Sudi

On 6 September 2010, the Human Rights Law Resource Centre filed an application for leave to make submissions to the Victorian Court of Appeal in the matter of Director of Housing v Sudi.  The matter is an appeal from the decision of Bell J, sitting as President of VCAT, in Director of Housing v Sudi [2010] VCAT 328, in which his Honour held that the Director of Housing acted unlawfully under the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities in seeking to evict a Somali refugee and his two year old son from public housing without providing any justification.

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Asia-Pacific: Brief to UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders

On 3 September 2010, the Human Rights Law Resource Centre, together with the International Service for Human Rights and the Pacific Regional Rights Resource Team, provided a Brief on the Pacific Region to Ms Margaret Sekaggya, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, in advance of her visit to Fiji scheduled for 6 to 10 September 2010. The brief is based on desktop research and provides preliminary or background information on human rights structures, initiatives and issues in the Pacific region. 

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