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UN expected to issue tough assessment of Australia's human rights performance

UN expected to issue tough assessment of Australia’s human rights performance

·         UNSW Sydney Associate Professor, Law, Anna Cody available for comment

The UN Human Rights Committee is expected to issue a tough assessment of Australia’s human rights performance on Thursday in Geneva when it hands down recommendations from a recent review.

Last month, the Committee reviewed Australia’s compliance with a key human rights treaty, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

At the time, Vice-Chair of the Committee Professor Yuval Shany noted Australia's "generally strong record" on human rights but said it was "unacceptable" that Australia routinely rejected the Committee's views, saying the country could not "pick and choose" its compliance with human rights law. The Committee again raised the lack of a national human rights act.

Committee member Professor Sarah Cleveland questioned Australia on unacceptably high Indigenous incarceration rates, the ongoing legacy of the Stolen Generations and lack of a national reparations scheme. Professor Shany drew on the Uluru Statement, raising the issue of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

The Committee also harshly criticised the Australian Government’s treatment of refugees in offshore detention centres, and its decision to hold a same-sex marriage postal vote. It raised questions too about how Australia handled transgender and intersex rights, domestic violence, and the sterilisation of women and girls with intellectual disability.

The Committee’s recommendations will be published on 9 November 2017 here.

For expert comment on the recommendations, contact Associate Professor Anna Cody, Director of Kingsford Legal Centre, a community legal centre which is part of UNSW Sydney. Kingsford Legal Centre and the Human Rights Law Centre coordinated the Australian NGO delegation that attended the UN review in Geneva.

Phone: +61 2 9385 9556, mobile +61 431 636 594.

Email: acody@unsw.edu.au