Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Amnesty International presents UN with report on Australia’s human rights failures

Amnesty International has presented the United Nations with a report setting out its concerns about Australia’s failure to comply with some of the country’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The 28-page document was tabled as part of the formal reporting mechanisms of the UN Human Rights Committee, under which the Australian Government is required to submit a report on its compliance with Covenant obligations every five years.

Robyn Seth-Purdie, Government Relations Adviser for Amnesty International Australia, will address Committee members on issues raised in the report at a Committee session in New York on March 16.

“Many of the gaps in Australia’s protection of human rights, identified by the UN Human Rights Committee in its last periodic review, still have not been addressed,” Dr Seth-Purdie said. “If the Rudd government is serious about meeting its international obligations it should take immediate action to withdraw law and policy that subject Indigenous Australians to racial discrimination.”

Amnesty International acknowledged the significance of the Prime Minister’s 2008 apology to the Stolen Generations, but pointed out that more needed to be done.

“Reinstating protections against racial discrimination under the Northern Territory Intervention is a crucial next step for the Australian Government to take to improve its human rights record,” Dr Seth-Purdie said.

An opinion poll commissioned by Amnesty International and released on 12 March found that 81 per cent of people surveyed would support the introduction of a law to protect human rights in Australia. It also found that 85 per cent believed introduction of such a human rights law should be a high priority for the Government.

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