3000 candles in front of Parliament House, Canberra

Disappointing response by Government to human rights recommendations made at UN review

The Australian Government’s decision to ignore key recommendations from UN member states aimed at improving its human rights record is extremely disappointing.

The recommendations, made at the UN Human Rights Council’s review of Australia earlier this year, found that 31 countries called for the Government to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility, while 47 wanted Australia to stop offshore processing and mandatory detention of asylum seekers and refugees.

Amnesty International Australia is deeply disappointed the Australian Government has rejected both these recommendations and calls on it to immediately review its position.

National Director, Samatha Klintworth, said: “In 2019-20, 499 children aged between 10 and 13 years were detained by Australia in the youth justice system – 65% of those children detained were First Nations children – even though First Nations children constitute only 5% of the population of that age.

“The Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recently found detention of children as ‘the most distressing aspect of her visit’ to Australia. We must raise our minimum age of responsibility to at least 14.”

Australia’s offshore processing and detention policy is another human rights catastrophe and a clear violation of international law. After eight years and thousands of lives damaged, approximately 230 refugees remain held offshore, with a further 1497 in closed detention and ‘alternative places of detention’ onshore.

Ms Klintworth said: “Australia must stop ignoring the rights of refugees. It must end offshore processing and indefinite detention of refugees and people seeking asylum and offer protection in line with its international human rights obligations and international laws. It must also end mandatory detention for refugees and asylum seekers in Australia.”