Amnesty International has called on the Rudd Government to react promptly and positively to all UN Human Rights Committee findings on Australia.
Released overnight, the Committee's Concluding Observations assess Australia's compliance with its international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Australia's last review took place in 2000.
"The Committee's findings are a timely reminder that while the Rudd Government is making some important moves in the right direction, there are significant respects in which Australia fails to meet its obligations," said Dr Robyn Seth-Purdie, Government Relations Advisor for Amnesty International. "The Committee has singled out Indigenous Australians, women, children and asylum seekers as groups whose rights need to be better protected."
"Many gaps in Australia’s protection of human rights, identified by the UN Human Rights Committee in its last periodic review, have still not been addressed," Robyn Seth-Purdie said. "We welcome the Committee's observations and look forward to working with the Rudd Government to ensure better protections for all rights in Australia."
While welcoming the Government's National Human Rights Consultation, the apology and the establishment of the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, the Human Rights Committee recommends the Australian Government:
legislates to give uniform and full effect to Covenant provisions across Australia;
redesign Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) measures in direct consultation with the people affected by them to ensure compliance with the Racial Discrimination Act and the Covenant;
increase efforts to establish effective mechanisms for consulting with Indigenous Australians on matters that affect their rights, including a national representative body;
provide adequate reparation, including compensation, to members of the Stolen Generations;
strengthen efforts to protect women, especially Indigenous women, from violence and promptly implement the National Plan of Action to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children;
bring anti-terrorism laws into conformity with Covenant provisions by tightening the definition of a terrorist act, protecting the right to presumption of innocence, and ensuring protection from on-going detention without charge;
legislate to achieve a comprehensive immigration framework that is compliant with the Covenant and consider abolishing remaining elements of the mandatory detention policy and closing the Christmas Island detention facility;
provide statutory protections against refoulement and stronger protections against extradition or police assistance where the death penalty could be invoked;
take comprehensive action on human rights education at all levels, including the judiciary and all public officials.
Earlier this month, as part of the review process, Amnesty International submitted a 28-page briefing paper to the Committee, noting Australia's failure to live up to a number of its international human rights obligations.
The briefing included a strong recommendation that the Government declare its support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Amnesty International yesterday congratulated the government for its historic statement of support of the Declaration.