Respect for international human rights and the rule of law is essential for a fair, just and secure global community. Australia played a leading role in the establishment of the United Nations human rights framework and it is in our national interest to be a good global human rights citizen.
UN Human Rights Council
Australia was elected for a three-year term on the UN Human Rights Council in October 2017. The Council is the UN body responsible for protecting the rights and dignity of people all over the world. Made up of 47 States the inter-governmental body meets three times a year. The Human Rights Law Centre will attend every day of the Council sessions and provide regular updates on the Australian Government’s actions.
The Human Rights Law Centre works to ensure that Australia engages positively and constructively with United Nations human rights bodies. We also work to ensure that Australia respects, implements and is held to account for its international human rights obligations both at home and abroad.
In a statement delivered in the United Nations overnight, the Human Rights Law Centre has called on the UN Human Rights Council to hold the Turnbull Government accountable for the continued suffering of 1800 refugees still languishing on Manus and Nauru after almost five years.
As the United Nations debates Eritrea’s troubled human rights record, an Australian mining company has taken the extraordinary step of appearing with the Eritrean regime to help it defend its actions.
"Time and time again we see our Government getting all mealy-mouthed about global humanitarian emergencies when the country in question has some connection with its own refugee policies" - Our Daniel Webb reports from last night's important session of the UN Human Rights Council focusing on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Myanmar.
In a statement to the United Nations, Human Rights Law Centre has called on the Turnbull Government to hold companies to account for human rights violations overseas.
Overnight the Australian Government delivered a major 'incoming members pledge' to the UN Human Rights Council, promising to approach it’s three year term on the Council "in a spirit of self-reflection with a view to improving our own human rights situation" and to "make progress in the promotion, protection and realisation of human rights", "including through implementation of [UN] recommendations and resolutions."
The Turnbull Government’s anti-democratic slide has been criticised at the United Nations Human Rights Council overnight, with the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders delivering a major report on Australian democracy.
The Turnbull Government will tonight begin Australia’s first ever session as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the UN body responsible for protecting the rights and dignity of people all over the world.
The Australian Government has ratified an important UN torture prevention treaty. The Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) is a mechanism established to prevent cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in places of detention.
Overnight, a UN committee of independent human rights experts told Australia to end the indefinite limbo of the 2000 men, women and children being warehoused on Manus Island and Nauru by evacuating them to safety in Australia.
The tide of condemnation against Australia’s human rights record is rising, with the United Nations expert panel on racial discrimination, criticising Australia’s failure to combat racism in a report released overnight.
The UN expert committee on racial discrimination has demanded to know why Australia is out of step with the rest of the world in criminalising primary school aged children. All Australian states and territories currently have laws that allow children as young as ten years to be charged, brought before the courts, sentenced and imprisoned.
The UN expert committee on racial discrimination issued a please explain to the Australian Government overnight, asking how it will eliminate racial discrimination in the remote ‘work for the dole’ program imposed on remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
The Australian Government is bracing for another round of intense scrutiny at the United Nations – this time focusing on its efforts to combat racial discrimination.
Overnight the United Nations Human Rights Committee called on the Australian Government to improve its track record on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) rights across the country.
Australia was condemned overnight by a UN Human Rights Committee for its human rights record on a range of issues including refugees, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ rights, youth justice and democratic freedoms.
The UN’s top expert on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions has included criticism of the Australian Government in a scathing global report condemning deterrence-based responses to people seeking asylum.
The Australian Government was again grilled last night at the United Nations in Geneva with the Human Rights Committee taking aim at the failure to scrap the cruel fines laws that resulted in Ms Dhu’s tragic death in custody.
Just one day after condemning the Australian Government’s “chronic non-compliance” with international human rights laws, in a further hearing overnight the expert Committee honed in on the Government’s cruelty to refugees and in particular its offshore detention regime. The Human Rights Committee described the policies as “shocking” and “disturbing”.
Overnight Australia was slammed by the UN Human Rights Committee for its “chronic non-compliance” with, and disengagement from, that Committee’s work. Australia’s record on human rights was found lacking as part of the Committee’s review into Australia’s protection of civil and political rights.
Hot on the heels of its appointment to the UN Human Rights Council, the Australian Government faced a grilling from UN experts about its own human rights performance. Our lawyers were in Geneva to help brief the Committee and present a report endorsed by 56 Australian organisations highlighting how Australia was failing to meet the standards it promised to uphold.
During the same week that Australia is expected to be granted a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, an expert UN committee will grill the Australian Government over its own human rights record.
“This is the most significant UN position Australia has sought since the Security Council. Relatively speaking Australia is likely to be a positive force for reform on the Council, but if it wants to have the credibility required to be a true human rights leader it can't continue to blatantly breach international law itself. There's no doubt that it's cruel treatment of refugees will hamstring Australia's efforts on Council," said Emily Howie.
The United Nations has been asked to urgently intervene to halt the Australian Government’s moves to make refugees and people seeking asylum destitute as a means of coercing them to return to danger and harm on Nauru or Manus Island.
Responding to reports that France has withdrawn its candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council – meaning Australia and Spain can be elected to the world’s peak human rights body unopposed – Emily Howie, a Director of Legal Advocacy at the HRLC, said Australia has work to do in order to fulfill the duties of a Council member.
The Australian Government must evacuate every man, woman and child currently warehoused on Manus and Nauru and bring them to safety in Australia, the United Nations said overnight.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to be denied basic rights the United Nations reported overnight.
Addressing the UN earlier this week in a statement to the Human Rights Council, the Human Rights Law Centre called on all UN member states to cooperate with the first United Nations independent expert tasked with combating the unacceptable violence and discrimination faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people around the world.
As the Australian Government campaigns for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families are being torn apart by punitive laws and a lack of investment in community-based prevention programs, the UN heard overnight.
The Australian government must immediately evacuate every person warehoused on Nauru and Manus to safety if it wants to be taken seriously as a human rights leader, the Human Rights Law Centre told the United Nations Human Rights Council in a statement delivered overnight.
The Human Rights Law Centre has urged Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to use his PNG trip – which comes at a critical juncture in Australia’s bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council - to make arrangements for refugees and people seeking asylum languishing on Manus Island to be immediately evacuated to safety.