Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Expat Observations: Human Rights

Australia had its Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations Human Rights Council early this morning in Geneva. Over 100 countries commented and made recommendations on Australia's human rights record. Considering the Coalition Government campaigned on a promise to "stop the boats" and is currently holding men, women and children seeking asylum in detention camps on Nauru and Manus Island, Australia was rightly called out for its human rights abuses. Australia is the only country in the world to use offshore processing and mandatory detention. Countries called on Australia to stop boat turnbacks, end the detention of asylum seekers and refoulement, and to ratify the optional protocol to the Convention Against Torture so that independent observers can visit the camps.

The other main recommendations centered around Australia's treatment of its Indigenous people, including the closure of remote communities, constitutional recognition, high levels of incarceration, and closing the gap around health, education, housing and employment. Australia will have a few months to decide which recommendations from the UPR report it will accept. Considering it is bidding for a seat on the Human Rights Council from 2018-20, it will be interesting to see the Government's response.

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