Australia’s human rights record has been scrutinised by more than 100 countries at the UN, with the treatment of asylum seekers and Indigenous people drawing particular criticism. Australia is being assessed before the universal periodic review, a quadrennial assessment of countries’ human rights record by the UN human rights council. One hundred and ten countries spoke at Australia’s session in Geneva overnight, putting forward 300 recommendations for the country to improve its human rights record. Because of the large number of countries who wanted to comment on Australia – more than half of the countries of the UN – each nation had only 65 seconds in which to address the broad issue of Australia’s human rights regime. The issue of asylum seekers dominated concerns. Indonesia – with whom relations have been strained over Australia’s asylum boat turnbacks – urged Australia to “ensure that the issues of refugees and asylum … [Read more...] about UN countries line up to criticise Australia’s human rights record
The official launch of Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations human rights council (UNHRC) was conducted, for all intents and purposes, in a parallel universe. Attorney general George Brandis’s speech earlier this month was incubated in Canberra, so it should not come as a surprise that it was detached from reality. “Across the entire panoply of human rights Australia has not only been an activist, but those rights are integral to what we Australians regard as our sense of nationhood,” the attorney general said. You may have missed it, apparently we have a “vigorous, ambitious human rights agenda”, domestically and internationally. Astonishingly, Brandis claimed to have “enlarged the scope” of the Australian Human Rights Commission. Under his careful grooming its role now “is to be a trustee of all human rights, including importantly, but not exclusively, the right to freedom from discrimination”. Further, he made … [Read more...] about Australia’s bid for the UN human rights council was conceived in a parallel universe
Australia has reconfirmed its desire for a seat on the UN’s powerful human rights council. However, its international reputation has been battered by a UN human rights official postponing a trip to Australia because, he says, the government refused access to detention centres, and threatened “reprisals”, including jail, against people who spoke to him. The condemnation comes as a report from rights groups Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) warns Australia must “lift its game” on human rights in order to be a credible global citizen. The new Turnbull government remains committed to winning a seat on the powerful United Nations human rights council – mandated with “the protection and promotion of all human rights around the globe” – competing with Spain and France for two places on the 47-member council. The foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, told Guardian Australia this week: “the government … [Read more...] about Australia up for human rights council seat despite UN official’s criticism of asylum secrecy
India is at war with its girls and women. The planned rape of eight-year-old Asifa in a temple by several men, including a policeman who later washed the clothes she was wearing to destroy evidence, was particularly horrific. Asifa’s rape has outraged and shaken the entire country. Yet sexual abuse in India remains widespread despite tightening of rape laws in 2013. According to the National Crimes Records Bureau, in 2016 the rape of minor girls increased by 82% compared with the previous year. Chillingly, across all rape cases, 95% of rapists were not strangers but family, friends and neighbours. The culturally sanctioned degradation of women is so complete that the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, launched a national programme called Beti Bachao (Save Our Girls). India can arguably be accused of the largest-scale human rights violation on Earth: the persistent degradation of the vast majority of its 650 million girls and women. And this includes the middle classes, as I … [Read more...] about India’s abuse of women is the biggest human rights violation on Earth
Was the decision of the majority of MPs to prevent a general election on 15 October lawful? Specifically, did it infringe Article 3 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which covers the right to free elections: ‘The High Contracting Parties undertake to hold free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot, under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature.’ Cases so far heard concerned the voting rights of prisoners, in which the Strasbourg Court found that what it called a ‘blanket ban’ on the right of prisoners to vote was unlawful. The decision of Parliament to prevent an election could be construed... … [Read more...] about Did MPs break the law in denying us our human right to express our will in an election?